Fourteen-year-old Richard Elauved is a bit of a bully. He’s an orphan whose parents died in a fire and has been sent to live with his aunt and uncle (Frank and Jenny) in a small town (Ballantyne) far from the big city he’s used to. Needless to say, he’s unhappy and angry and, thus, takes his angst out on classmates who are farther down the social ladder than he is. One of these is Tom who meets his end in Chapter One in a fairly gruesome and unusual manner – he’s eaten and sucked through a telephone receiver! But who is on the other end of the line? Richard believes it’s a citizen. Imu Jonasson, the town constable says doesn’t exist. Jonasson, whose name Richard plucked from a phone book in the same booth where Tom met his demise, is no longer listed in that book. And, even though Richard tells the police the truth about what happened to Tom, they don’t believe him. That, of course, is natural. Who would?
After these shocking opening scenes, author Nesbo takes the reader down a path with his young protagonist to discover who and what the illusive Mr. Jonasson is. This quest will carry Richard and some of his classmates to Mirror Forest and a gloomy estate known as “The Night House.” It is here that Richard will discover things dark and terrible that may have the power to destroy him and, more importantly, the young lady he loves.
The Night House is a tale of supernatural terror and also a journey of discovery. It contains, as the reader will find, a story within a story within a story. The opening scene of young Tom’s demise was, as I have mentioned, gruesome and, for a moment or two, I considered closing the book and not continuing with it. But, I steeled myself and read on and I’m glad I did. A very entertaining read, The Night House is not for the faint of heart, but for fans of horror, supernatural suspense, and coming of age sagas. Highly recommended reading.
I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, for providing me with a free ARC copy of this novel. The Night House is set for publication on October 3, 2023.