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Thursday, October 10, 2013
Night Film by Marisha Pessl

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.


Review: Night Film is a fantastic read for all those who love the horror genre, either written or on screen. As the reader journeys down the rabbit hole with Scott and his two sidekicks, many horror conventions and settings are touched upon. Nods to the horror staples: witches, secret societies, conspiracies, asylums, creepy dolls, all these are included and more. The best part of the reading experience for me was that I genuinely was not certain where it was all leading, a novelty for someone who reads a lot of mystery genre fiction that adheres to convention to the point where it can get predictable. The various items from other media included with the text added to the immersive feel of the novel and felt like the literary equivalent of found footage horror. 

As far as the characters go, Scott is an interesting and flawed protagonist. Immersed in his persona of the jaded investigative journalist, he far to often relies on stereotypes to judge people and therefore is frequently wrong. His accomplice, Nora the down on her luck orphan, adds a touch of humor and lightness to the otherwise grim proceedings. Rounding out the cast is Hopper, a drug dealer with his own personal connection to the late Ashley Cordova. Ashley Cordova herself is a presence throughout the story, as is her potentially malevolent filmmaker father. 

One minor nitpick some may have is the use of italics throughout the novel. I was not too fond of this myself, italics for emphasis should be used sparingly or else it becomes tedious. I found this was most noticeable near the beginning of the novel but either the italics weren't as prevalent further in or I had made the mental adjustment to ignore them; they did not significantly detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

Aside from twists the narrative took keeping my interest, I also enjoyed the fact that the story both provided explanations for the mysterious goings on yet maintained its ambiguity. The ending walks the tightrope of being both mysterious and satisfying: avoiding the inevitable disappointment when the shadowy curtain is pulled back to reveal the mundane while at the same time not being vague enough to be frustrating. A great creepy reading experience
perfect for RIP VIII.

4.5 Stars.



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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Night Film

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.


Review: Night Film is a fantastic read for all those who love the horror genre, either written or on screen. As the reader journeys down the rabbit hole with Scott and his two sidekicks, many horror conventions and settings are touched upon. Nods to the horror staples: witches, secret societies, conspiracies, asylums, creepy dolls, all these are included and more. The best part of the reading experience for me was that I genuinely was not certain where it was all leading, a novelty for someone who reads a lot of mystery genre fiction that adheres to convention to the point where it can get predictable. The various items from other media included with the text added to the immersive feel of the novel and felt like the literary equivalent of found footage horror. 

As far as the characters go, Scott is an interesting and flawed protagonist. Immersed in his persona of the jaded investigative journalist, he far to often relies on stereotypes to judge people and therefore is frequently wrong. His accomplice, Nora the down on her luck orphan, adds a touch of humor and lightness to the otherwise grim proceedings. Rounding out the cast is Hopper, a drug dealer with his own personal connection to the late Ashley Cordova. Ashley Cordova herself is a presence throughout the story, as is her potentially malevolent filmmaker father. 

One minor nitpick some may have is the use of italics throughout the novel. I was not too fond of this myself, italics for emphasis should be used sparingly or else it becomes tedious. I found this was most noticeable near the beginning of the novel but either the italics weren't as prevalent further in or I had made the mental adjustment to ignore them; they did not significantly detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

Aside from twists the narrative took keeping my interest, I also enjoyed the fact that the story both provided explanations for the mysterious goings on yet maintained its ambiguity. The ending walks the tightrope of being both mysterious and satisfying: avoiding the inevitable disappointment when the shadowy curtain is pulled back to reveal the mundane while at the same time not being vague enough to be frustrating. A great creepy reading experience
perfect for RIP VIII.

4.5 Stars.



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