Night Film by Marisha Pessl – Book Review

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Published by Random House

I can’t do this one justice, you guys. It is complex and crazy and omgwtfbbq1!1, so here’s the publisher’s description:

On a damp October night, beautiful, young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her death is ruled a suicide, but veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding her death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of Ashley’s father: cult horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Rumored to be shuttered away in a remote Adirondack estate, Cordova remains an enigma. Though much has been written about his unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. With the help of two strangers, McGrath is slowly drawn into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world as he pieces together the answers: What really happened to Ashley? Who is Cordova? And once we face our deepest fears-what lies on the other side?

The farther I get from this book, the more impressed I am. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it when I was reading it, but it is not every author who can write a book of over 600 pages and have it be such a tight storytelling experience. Scott is a sympathetic main character, and Ashley’s death is a great and believable motivating factor for the hunt that Scott and his compatriots embark upon. The whole thing is immaculately constructed, just a really well put together novel.

There is one odd thing, though, and that is the proliferation of phrases in italics. I couldn’t entirely figure out what the italics were representing, initially it seemed to perhaps be Scott’s internal monologue, but that didn’t seem to be the case. At the beginning it bothered me enough that I thought I might switch to audio, but I was concerned about how the audiobook would handle all the documents and other ephemera Scott collects during his investigation, which are presented as black and white illustrations. Eventually, though, Pessl’s storytelling took over (I read the last 1/3-1/2 of the book in a single sitting!) and I barely noticed the italics.

Night Film is a fabulous book and one that I think would likely be best enjoyed in printed due to the extensive illustrations that Pessl uses to tell her story.

For more information, see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.


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6 comments to Night Film by Marisha Pessl – Book Review

  • I think I’m going to have to make time for this one. Too many good reviews. I am turned off by most big books, when they are over 400-500 pages I wonder if it’s just too long for me. Weird I know.
    You’ve only piqued my interest more.

  • This comes across as a fascinating psychological thriller. I will need to read more reviews before I attempt this one.

  • amy

    sounds absolutely fantastic. adding it to my TBR list. thanks for the great review.

  • Richard Kennedy

    I don’t know what all those letters mean. Well, that’s not quite accurate, only from bbq1!1. This novel rocks, it’s funny and right from the get-go it’s scarier than hell. I am only 100 pages in but, holy crap! There’s an overall pall that makes it feel like the entire story is cast in a cold, dark, damp, fog. And, it never lifts and there will be more victims. The characters so far are just extraordinary set pieces in a tale that promises to be foreboding as all hell. I’ve been fortunate to read so many good books this Spring and Summer. This bad boy promises to be a barn burning horror show. I loved Jillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl,’ but I have to say Marisha Pessl has certainly upped the ante here. As for it’s length, this is a problem, really? If it’s good and you are having a brilliant reading experience, why isn’t that a good thing? I have a tendency to drag out the end of books I’ve really enjoyed.

    • Length is a problem for a couple of reasons. For one thing, many (although obviously not all) books that are long are long because they need a bunch more editing. I’ve had this experience enough that I often shy away from long books thinking they won’t be all that book. Second, I probably easily have 1,000 unread books and every month about twice as many books enter my TBR pile as leave it, so even a good long book will be taking the place of at least two others I could read and thus must be twice as good to be worthwhile. When a book is long because it hasn’t gone through enough editing, it takes longer to read the same number of pages and thus takes the place of at least three others I could be reading, which is not cool.

      All this being said, when a long book is REALLY GOOD it is indeed a really good thing.