The Night Child

Anna Quinn

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - JOHN M. MUR­RAY

Black­stone Pub­lish­ing (JAN­UARY) Hard­cover $24.99 (200pp) 978-1-5384-3434-5

The Night Child’s gen­tle deal­ings with heavy sub­jects high­light the fragility of the hu­man mind.

The Night Child is a pow­er­ful, heart-wrench­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal tale that ex­am­ines a teacher’s men­tal break­down.

Just as school breaks for Thanks­giv­ing, a child-like ap­pari­tion shocks high-school English teacher Nora Brown into a near stu­por. The ap­pari­tion ap­pears once more to tell Nora to re­mem­ber “the Valen­tine’s dress.”

Rat­tled to her core, Nora con­sults ev­ery doc­tor she can and fi­nally winds up in a ther­a­pist’s of­fice. There, she dis­cov­ers that the ap­pari­tion is closely re­lated to a child­hood trauma, re­pressed so fully that it has frac­tured her psy­che. Nora strug­gles to un­der­stand and re­cover be­fore she drives her fam­ily away.

It should be noted that this book re­quires a mas­sive trig­ger warn­ing. Nora’s story in­volves child abuse and sex­ual vi­o­lence, both of which are de­scribed in graphic de­tail. How­ever, the

dark­ness and shock­ing rev­e­la­tions aren’t used as at­ten­tion grab­bers. They high­light Nora’s frag­ile con­di­tion and the lengths to which her mind went to pro­tect her.

Most of the story un­folds in the ther­a­pist’s of­fice, where an em­pa­thetic and car­ing ther­a­pist care­fully guides Nora to­ward un­lock­ing her mem­o­ries. Be­tween flash­backs and Nora’s own nar­ra­tive, the truth be­hind her child­hood comes out. Phys­i­cal, ver­bal, and sex­ual abuse col­lide to shat­ter her in­no­cent mind.

Writ­ing is sparse and elo­quent, slip­ping in and out of Nora’s frac­tured mind in a way that is fas­ci­nat­ing and en­thralling. Char­ac­ters are ex­tremely well de­vel­oped, es­pe­cially Nora, whose dif­fi­cul­ties con­nect­ing with peo­ple, be they her un­faith­ful hus­band or her en­er­getic daugh­ter, feel re­al­is­tic. An am­bigu­ous end­ing makes room for a pos­si­ble con­tin­u­a­tion of Nora’s story. Though it is emo­tion­ally chal­leng­ing to read,

The Night Child’s gen­tle deal­ings with heavy sub­jects high­light the fragility of the hu­man mind and the in­tense jour­neys re­quired to heal deep wounds.

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