From The Week: Michael Koryta recommends 6 books for spooky season

The Night Country by Stewart O’Nan (2003).

O’Nan dazzles by capturing the everyday and the human heart, so this tale — narrated by the ghost of a teen who died in a car wreck on Halloween night — might seem like a departure. What makes it work is how precisely he maintains that insight into the everyday and the human heart. O’Nan writes of autumn in New England: “It’s the best time of year up here, the only season you want from us, our pastoral past — witch hunts and woodsmoke, the quaintly named dead in mossy churchyards.”

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13th Year of The Night Country!

The Night Country

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This year marks the thirteenth year of The Night Country, published in 2003.  The novel was dedicated to the King of Halloween himself, Ray Bradbury.

At Midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a tree, killing three of them. One escapes unharmed, another suffers severe brain damage. A year later, summoned by the memories of those closest to them, the three that died come back on a last chilling mission among the living.

A strange and unsettling ghost story, The Night Country creeps through the leaf-strewn streets and quiet cul-de-sacs of one bedroom community, reaching into the desperately connected yet isolated lives of three people changed forever by the accident: Tim, who survived yet lost everything; Brooks, the cop whose guilty secret has destroyed his life; and Kyle’s mom, trying to love the new son the doctors returned to her. As the day wanes and darkness falls, one of them puts a terrible plan into effect, and they find themselves caught in a collision of need and desire, watched over by the knowing ghosts.

Macabre and moving, The Night Country elevates every small town’s bad high school crash into myth, finding the deeper human truth beneath a shared and very American tragedy.

“Scary, sad, funny, and when it comes to young people at the end of their ropes and hopes, dead on the money.  [The Night Country] takes you away to a strange and special place while reminding you of the places you’ve been — especially the spooky Halloween places.  A gracefully written, mesmerizing read.”   – Stephen King

“The perfect ghost story for a contemporary Halloween, The Night Country demonstrates that the horror novel and literature can live quite happily within a single set of covers.”   – Peter Straub

“In The Night Country Stewart O’Nan gives us a handle on the adolescent subconscious that may not be pretty but is brutally honest in the way that literature must be if it’s going to do any good.  Growing up, and life and death, get defined.  Lives get saved in the way that literature can do some saving.”   – Theodore Weesner

Happy Halloween to all!