I've just finished a good book. I requested The Night Child from NetGalley so thank you to NetGalley for granting me access to it.
The Night Child tells the story of Nora, in third person and how she thinks she's going crazy cause of a vision and a voice in her head. We see Nora visit her councillor a lot to try and sort out these wild imaginings. We also see her in hospital for a large proportion of the book.
2.5 Stars (3 on Goodreads).
If you're in any way sensitive to mental illness, physical abuse, or suicide then I don't think this would be the story for you. I'd say The Night Child is an adult read or at least a 16+ read.
When we first see Nora, she's at work. She's a high school teacher in the USA. That's when she gets her first vision.
"Am I so tired that I'm hallucinating?"
The use of italics here, show Nora is shocked and doesn't know what to think.
The vision is of this girl with "startling blue eyes". When this vision keeps recurring for Nora, her husband thinks it best for her to go to a psychiatric specialist. This specialist is called David.
"He is reading her medical history form and she is impatient for him to finish reading"
Nora just wants to get back to her normal, every day life, with her husband and daughter. She wants a quick solution to her problem. She doesn't want to be sat in a psychiatric doctor's office.
"You can't get me. You can't get me"
This phrase is what starts the headaches for Nora. It's just her daughter saying the phrase here, as a fun game but Nora was sexually abused by her father when she was younger it is later revealed. The "You can't get me" is similar to something he used to say when he was having sex with her. He repeated the phrase too. Obviously Fiona, her little girl doesn't mean to cause Nora and distress but she does.
"In that moment Nora's heart has brimmed"
before Fiona had uttered those words above, Nora had been having a great time celebrating her little girl's birthday. Six is the age Nora was when her father started the abuse so I believe, this is a trigger too. Again, this isn't Fiona's fault.
"And you rate your marriage a three out of ten".
This is another sore spot for Nora throughout the novel. She hardly gets any support from her husband, Paul. She doesn't know why she rates it so low, though. "It's just that ... I don't know" she's at a loss for words, clearly. She's very unsure about what's happening to her, and what Paul would think about her seeing a psychiatrist, I think, at first.
What Nora doesn't know at this point, really early on in the novel is that her husband is having an affair. This also puts stress on Nora to add to everything else.
"She's more convinced, now than ever that he's having an affair"
shows that Nora, even if she is going slightly crazy, knows her own mind enough to see her husband drifting away from her. This continues throughout the novel.
The big reveal or key in The Night Child is Nora's abuse from her father, I think. Otherwise, it would be quite a boring novel just of someone suffering from an unknown mental illness. Margaret, or the recurring vision is a way to cope with the abuse.
"Valentines day is in two days and something bad is going to happen. I know it. I just know it"
is something Margaret, the other half of Nora says to David. This is because the first time Nora's father abused her was Valentine's Day. I, however don't know what it is about the Valentine's Day coming up in the novel that turns out bad, though. This just skipped by me. I think we're meant to be a little unsure as to how Margaret knows something bad will happen on Valentine's Day. She's an unreliable narrator and this plays into that.
A minor character also commits suicide. This minor character is also getting abused by her father. I believe this event is what clicks everything into place for Nora.
"And I knew—I knew her father was molesting her, I knew it, and—and—I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything, I—"
This is obviously shocking and upsetting for Nora. If she had just done something then things might have worked out for Elizabeth, the character that commits suicide.
There are only a few characters bought into The Night Child. We have Nora, Margaret, David, Paul, the woman Paul is having an affair with, who's never present in the story, Fiona and Nora's brother, as well as Nora's father who is never actually present in the story, either. He's just spoken about. There are a few minor characters such as nurses and people/students at the school too, but that's it. The settings are Nora's house for a few scenes, the school where Nora works for one or two scenes, David's appointment room and the hospital. The setting that's present the most is the hospital as Nora spends most of the story here.
We see events in the past and present. Scenes in the past include ones where Nora's father abuses her and certain events with her husband. I thought this format worked well for The Night Child. The simple story, with minimal characters and settings was easy to follow.
What I liked about The Night Child:
* I liked not having many characters to follow as I didn't get confused or feel like I forgot anyone of significance.
* The abuse parts were handled sensitively.
What I didn't like about The Night Child:
* I didn't like how the novel seemed to solely focus on Nora's recovery. It would have been good if we'd seen some other aspects of her life as well.
* I didn't like how the story was told from 3rd person narrative. It would have been better if it had had a 1st person narrative, or at least alternating perspective chapters. We would have been able to experience the story as Nora then.
* I would have liked the story to cover Elizabeth's abuse as well as Nora's. The story could have been longer and more fleshed out if this was the case.
I'm giving The Night Child, 2.5 Stars (3 on Goodreads) because while I found it interesting finding out about Nora's past that and the effects of her abuse was really the only thing that the story focused on. Margaret was an interesting character too but we didn't see very much from her. I thought the story tackled the abuse well, though. It would have helped if the story had focused on more than just Nora's abuse. If it had focused on Elizabeth's abuse too then we might have gotten the answer for exactly why she committed suicide. Instead of just formulating our theories on what the other characters felt.
Stand by for my next review, coming soon...