Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Release Date – August 20, 2013
Publisher Website -  Random House
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  624 pages
My Rating- 5/5
**obtained for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Brilliant, haunting, breathtakingly suspenseful, Night Film is a superb literary thriller by The New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

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.
Soverign. Deadly. Perfect. These words that are the motto of Cordova's biggest fans could also describe Marisha Pessl's second novel. A novel that starts out unraveling the mystery behind a beautiful woman's death, and quickly leads you into the darkness. Perception is in the eye of the beholder, and the truth may not exist. It's a hard novel to review because so much of it is a spoiler. This experience is best enjoyed untainted, and I am going to aim to do just that with my review.

Marisha Pessl's writing is nearly flawless. The unraveling of this taunt, mind trippy thriller is kept a fever pitch, and as a result the 600+  pages fly by. The infusion of media throughout the novel immerses the reader into the story in a unique way. It makes the experience more authentic, and is cleverly done. This is a book that wants to wrap you in itself, and leave you in pieces on the other side. Marisha expertly maneuvers the reader through this in such a way that you become not only immersed, but obsessed.

Scott McGrath is a mess, and that's before the story even really starts. Obsession, perception, and faith flow through this novel, and it's a defining characteristic of it’s main character.  Scott acts as a mirror for the reader because he‘s just as desperate to uncover the truth. He becomes single minded in his pursuit of what he deems the truth behind Cordova, and Ashley's death. The mystery of the director captivates even more than the mystery of Ashley. It's not hard to see why the infamous, mysterious director has such a pull for his fanatics, and Scott himself.

Choices and perception haunt this novel. Faith, and what you believe are such strong forces. It's characters, and the reader, are forced to confront what it means to make a choice based upon something you believe in so fully. Does the way you perceive something validate the choices you make? Does believing something make it true? Scott, and likewise the reader have to struggle with this. It asks you to reconcile the belief that two (or more) realities can exist side by side. That for some their reality can be an absolute, even if different from the reality others can see. It's a novel that makes you question your stance on everything. It gets into your head, and messes with it in the most delicious way possible, because you end up begging it to.  It leaves you gasping, disoriented and sifting through the murkiness for the smallest grain of truth only to realize how futile that really is. It's like a rabbit hole that inexplicably leads nowhere.

The secondary characters are just as mystifying as the rest of the novel. Nora and Hopper are both the type of characters that are created for the movie screen. The novel reads like a movie, and these two characters are going to provide a juicy, delicious role for some young actors. They read like characters straight out of one of Cordova's movies and have motives of their own.

This novel, as the Cordovites favourite saying goes, is sovereign, deadly, and perfect. A second novel that establishes Marisha Pessl as not only a fantastic writer, but someone who deserves to be on your auto buy list, regardless of the subject matter. Trying to unravel the enigma that is Cordova is the perfect way to spend the last dying days of summer.


  1. Hey, thanks for the great review. I haven't heard of this book before, but I'll definitely have a look at it now!

    Johanna @ ChallengingReads


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