There exist many different kinds of horror. On one side, you have the more visceral and violent kind. On the other, you have the more quiet and emotional one. The Night Country, an amazingly affective novel, falls into this second category. Written with much soul and emotion, it's a nearly poetic treatise about the sadness of death and the sadness of life.
The story takes place a year after a horrible car crash that left four teenagers dead, one badly injured and one unharmed. Now, a year later, the ghosts of the departed ones look at the world and the people who used to matter in their lives. It is now the eve of Halloween, the day when, one year ago, the accident happened. We follow these characters for twenty-four hours, until the very tragic end of the story.
The story follows many different subplots that all merge into one. You have Brookes, the cop who was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident and who has been badly scarred by it ever since. You have Tim, the only one who survived unharmed and who hasn't been able to deal with the event. And you have Kyle, who survived the crash but who was left damaged in more ways than one, and his parents.
As our narrator, the late Marco, tells us what happens to these characters, the other ghosts often argue with him or come in to tell us their brief version of things. O'Nan weaves his narrative in such a way that you never quite know where the book is taking you. Well, you know where it is trying to go although you wish it will never get there.
The Night Country is a book that is all about death. There is very little joy to be found in this story. Instead, what you find is sadness. These characters are too badly scarred to ever be able to mend their lives back into what they used to be.
Powerful, touching and incredibly affective, The Night Country is that rare horror novels that achieves greatness on many levels. You will not soon forget these characters, nore will you forget this powerful tale of mourning without hope. O'Nan has just found himself a new fan. I can't wait to read his other books!