Books & Literature

Book Review: The Night House, by Jo Nesbo

HISTORY: From the internationally best-selling author comes a twisted, multi-layered spin on the classic horror novel for fans of Stranger Things and IT.

A horror-driven thriller, in the style of the Master of Horror (Stephen King), from the Norwegian Crime Noir legend.

Feature image credit: Penguin Books

This year, Norwegian Crime author Jo Nesbo – best known for his Harry Hole books – returns with his first standalone novel since 2020’s The Kingdom. The book follows the recently released Killing Moon (the 13th in the Harry Hole series). However, it is unlike anything we’ve seen from Nesbo to date.

The Night House tells the tale of Richard, a young man who has been relocated to a small town to live with his uncle and aunt, following the tragic death of his parents in a house fire. After a number of children’s disappearances, with Richard as the common denominator, the police begin to suspect he may be more intimately involved.

It sounds like a standard Nesbo storyline, but the reader will soon realise it’s far from that.

After heading into the woods to play with a stuttering schoolmate named Tom – a focus point for the opening of the tale – they decide to make a prank call. This is where the story takes a sinister and supernatural turn.

During the prank call, the phone’s receiver devours the stuttering Tom before Richard’s very eyes. This is only the first of a number of horror-filled turns that haunt Richard and only become stranger with each development. Ultimately, everything that Richard has witnessed is explained. Which, while satisfying to a point, does bring the tale crashing back to reality and normality, of sorts.

This book is written in the first person, traversing three parts, each set in a different timeline and differing locations. The first two parts are reminiscent of the early works of American master of horror, Stephen King, and devotees will likely relish this ironic alignment, considering King now predominantly works in the mystery genre. This has the mundane and everyday turn on the unsuspecting in terrifying fashion — trademarks of King’s bestsellers —delivered with the hallmarks of Nesbo’s home country.

The third part takes a jarring turn, while maintaining links to key aspects of its predecessors. It takes the story in a new direction, somewhat surprisingly, and ends on very grounded note and finishes with a similarity to the epic The Dark Tower by Stephen King.

The Night House is without a doubt a new direction from Nesbo, and it will be interesting to see whether it is one that influences future standalone works. With some time likely to pass before we see another new work, it is one to savour, all the same.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: September 2023
RRP: $32.99

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