Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Format Read: Paperback, 624 pages
Publication Date: 30th January 2014 by Windmill Books
Synopsis: “Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.
On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.
For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.
The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.
ONCE WE FACE OUR DEEPEST FEARS, WHAT LIES ON THE OTHER SIDE?”
Night Film can be summed up in one word: Epic. If you read my End of the Year Survey, then you’ll know that this book features throughout and was one of the ONLY books I gave five-stars to last year. I don’t give out five-stars easily, so it takes a truly enthralling read to gain my love. Am I hard to please? Possibly. But this book swept me off my feet and completely blew me away.
Scott McGrath is a disgraced journalist whose attempt to expose the secrets of the ever illusive cult horror director, Stanislas Cordova, resulted in the loss of his family and journalistic reputation. Fast forward to present day, Cordova’s only daughter is found dead in an abandoned warehouse, marking another tragedy in this family’s history. Ashley’s suicide brings forward questions that Scott wants answered, and driven by the need to seek the truth, he sets out on a horrific journey that will make him face his deepest fears.
This book uses different mediums to immerse the reader in its story. Visual media such as newspaper clippings, website screenshots and vintage images are used throughout to allow the reader a first person perspective of Scott McGrath’s research into the Cordova mystery. Other interactive media such as an app – YES AN APP – is available and can be used to scan certain pages for hidden clues. Can I just say how much fun I had with this book. Not only is this method of storytelling so immersive, but it’s just so cool to get a story within a story in some aspects.
Pessl has created a truly atmospheric read. Her writing style is definitely on-point and I found myself sucked into the story more than once. Scott McGrath’s time at The Peak, the Cordova estate, gave me the biggest chills and I felt my heart racing a mile a minute as the story unfolded. I was so scared at one point I had to get up to close the blinds in my room because it felt like someone was watching me from outside – which is stupid because my room faces the garden and is on the second level.
The only complaint I have with the book is the the open-ended finale. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for open-ended stories and I get that the author is trying to drive home the theme of Cordova’s films all having similar open-ended finales. BUT GAAAAH, after such a long mystery I would have liked some closure. I guess I’ll try my hand at it as well and leave you guys with a Cordova quote:
Sovereign. Deadly. Perfect.
What does it mean? Well you’ll just have to read and find out.
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