Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

August 19, 2013 Horror, Mystery/Suspense, Random House, Review 5

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (August 20, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 140006788X
  • Source: Publisher

“I love to put my characters in the dark. It’s only then that I can see exactly who they are.”

Scott McGrath is an investigative journalist who knows his fair share about Stanislas Cordova, an infamous director of horror films so horrifying that studios refused to produce them. Despite being sued by the Cordova family for a libelous story, resulting in the end of his career as well as his marriage, Scott continues to find the mysterious man intriguing. Cordova hasn’t been seen in over three decades but his fame continues.  When his daughter, Ashley, is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan, Cordova’s mysterious life is once again brought to center stage.


Scott is unable to accept the coroner’s ruling that Ashley’s death is a suicide and immediately begins digging up information about what Cordova has been doing for the last thirty years. His films were horrific, so shocking and intense that the actors refuse to speak of word of what transpired. It’s obvious that Cordova has always had an disturbing attraction to death and it is Scott’s opinion that this somehow has something to do with Ashley’s death. The family has a history of death, perhaps Ashley’s is yet another example of the family’s supposed curse catching up with them.

With the help of two complete strangers who both have an uncanny connection to the Cordova family, following random bits of information about Ashley’s life that take them all over the state of New York. Scott once again steps into the dark and evil world of Stanislas Cordova, this time delving far deeper than he ever had before.

Please bear with me while I try to put into words the pure brilliance contained within the pages of this novel.  Is it the tremendously elaborate multimedia aspects, including screen shots of web sites, case files, handwritten notes, and more?  Readers follow Scott through his investigation, viewing and discovering evidence as he does, gaining access to visuals and getting a perspective not many novels afford.

We say authors write novels. In this case, however, the word “write” is not enough to describe the act that Pessl has performed.  Instead, she constructed a product that is much more than a simple novel, an absolutely stunning piece of art. The level of skill and research she dedicated to this novel is tremendous, each character and each plot point expertly crafted.  The underground world she creates surrounding Cordova’s character is elaborate, dark, and tremendously terrifying.  I was both horrified and intrigued by Cordova’s character and the aspects of his life that were revealed. His character truly came to life to me, I fully expected to be able to Google his name and find web sites upon web sites of information about him.

Be prepared to dispel disbelief, just give yourself up to the author and allow her to transport you into the dark world of Stanislas Cordova. The rewards will be innumerable, the lasting effects of this novel will remain with you months upon months after you turned the last few pages. You will overlook the daunting length of this novel, instantly transfixed and transported into another world. I guarantee Night Film is like no novel you have ever read, or ever will read. Believe all the buzz you’ve heard about this novel. It really is that good. I read this book not once, but twice, unable to cut the ties that bind me to its brilliance. Highly, highly recommended.

Note: as if the existing multimedia contained within this novel wasn’t enough…there is an app that allows you to scan certain images within the nvoel to unlock even more multimedia content. This Night Film Decoder app will be available tomorrow, August 20th, the release date for this novel. Brilliant!

5 Responses to “Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl”

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    OMG that trailer is amazing! Wow. Well, I would completely agree with you, this was one helluva book. The writing, the atmosphere, the multimedia…it is all such a wild ride and is perfection. It will most definitely be one of my favorite books this year.

  2. Literate Housewife
    Twitter: lithousewife

    I love what you have to say about her performing this book. It is so very true. This second novel was well worth the wait.

  3. Beth F

    I hope to get to this soon — the reviews are so mixed, I’m not sure what side I’ll be on.

  4. Stacy (The Novel Life)
    Twitter: thenovellife

    Wow! What a trailer! And your review makes me want to rush out and buy the book right now! How interesting that this author is trying to make the reading experience so immersive!