Exploring power and mental illness in Anna Quinn’s ‘The Night Child’

Title: The Night Child
Author: Anna Quinn
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 200 pages
Available: 30 January 2018

nightchildWhen a little girl in a red dress appears in her empty classroom, Nora doesn’t know what to think. But this first appearance is just the beginning of what becomes an endless battle with insomnia and nightmares–episodes that Nora’s husband isn’t sure how to handle. To try and figure out what’s wrong, Nora begins to see a therapist who begins to take her back through her childhood in hopes of unraveling the mystery of Nora’s visions. Something deeper, more sinister must be at play here. She can’t just be going crazy. Right?

“In her mind, the dots crowd together and she is a dot and there are so many dots crowding her, too many dots and the dot of her has disappeared in the oppressive mud of dots that stinks like shit and there’s no place to breathe and the mud has already swallowed her.”
— loc. 366

But what Nora has to handle is more than just trying to navigate this new onset of symptoms. Questions about her own family–about her husband–soon converge with the work Nora is doing with her therapist. Anna Quinn has carefully crafted the narrative of this story so that it leaves the reader guessing whether or not they can trust Nora, or any other character. Especially Nora’s husband: a man who has the power to take away Nora’s home, her daughter, and her freedom if her symptoms keep getting worse.

“This is the moment she’s worried about. The moment when the neurons in her brain misfire into complete chaos and it’s too late to do anything about it.”
— loc. 665

Quinn balances elements of Women’s Fiction with Domestic Thrillers, following a woman through a terrible experience while keeping the reader on the edge of their seats. Combined with beautiful, anxious prose that gives a unique look into Nora’s splintered mind, The Night Child is a must-read for fans of Mary Kubica and Karen Perry.

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