Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Posted August 19, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 23 Comments

Book Review: Night Film by Marisha PesslNight Film by Marisha Pessl
Published by Random House on August 20th, 2013
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller
Pages: 624
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn't been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.

The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.


It’s rare when a book is so special that you wish you could read it all over again for the first time and you are not even halfway through it yet. But that’s Night Film. It’s a book that I firmly believe will be talked about for years. It will have people saying this is their favorite book of all time. It will be criticized because someone always has to criticize a brilliant book just to be different. All the great books have naysayers. I realize I am kind of sticking this book up there on a pedestal right now, but I firmly believe it deserves to be there among the greats. It is THAT good.

This is a difficult review though because I don’t want to give anything away. There is not much I can say without revealing spoilers, and it is essential for the reader to go into this with a blank canvas and a whole lot of excitement. Everyone needs to experience this for themselves. It’s that kind of book, and I would hate myself if I ruined or influenced someone else’s reading experience, so I am going to keep this as short as possible.

Night Film uses a mixed media approach that works well. There are news articles and web pages and that sort of thing interspersed with exceptional writing and character development. I really think this adds to the macabre tone of the book and ups the creep factor, because really, this is one scary book. There are scenes that made me viscerally shiver because of their imagery and atmosphere. The opening scene is terrifying. Many others follow, and there are scenes in this book that will stick with me for a very long time. 

That brings me to where this book excels. It excels everywhere, obviously, but I think the atmosphere and detail are what made this book unlike any other. I’ve read plenty of thrillers. I’ve even read books with a noir feel, which is what Night Film is, but I don’t think I’ve read any mysteries with this amount of detail and foreshadowing and scenes that connect to each other and leave the reader completely confused and overwhelmed and unable to figure a damn thing out. And writing in run on sentences apparently. I loved it. Memorable settings loaded with imagery. I don’t think I’ve ever read a New York City and surrounding countryside like this one.

It’s at this time where I leave you to discover the rest for yourself. Stay up late reading this…or don’t if you scare easily. I would not want you to have nightmares. Muahaha. Just like Cordova, this book is an enigmatic mystery just waiting for you to unravel what is on its pages. This one will stick with the reader for a very long time, possibly forever. Best book I have read so far this year, possibly in a few years. Highly recommended. I would get your pre-orders in now.


23 responses to “Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

  1. OH I love that feeling! It’s been happening more often for me lately ;D I am strangely in love with this cover- good to see that the story was just as fabulous.

    Lovely review, Kara! <33

  2. Amy

    Wow!! 5 stars!! This one caught my interest the first time I heard of it. I’m so glad that you loved it. I will have to read this one!! Fantastic review!!

  3. This is definitely a new favorite of mine too. It was so nutty though… the scariness was like a ninja and came out of NOWHERE sometimes, which made it even more thrilling and exciting. Amazing book, I’ll definitely be picking up her other book… even if it’s half as good as this I’ll be happy. Great review!!

    • I agree! It did come out of nowhere sometimes. That’s because the events that occurred in this book were impossible to predict! I am going to read her other book as well but I think it’s a completely different book and I want more of THIS!

  4. I’m about 40% of the way through this book right now. I love the creepiness and the use of websites and articles. I’m definitely curious how it’s all going to end. I’ve already been wondering how in the world to review it besides: Um, this is cool. Read it…

  5. I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book and I’m eager to check it out although I’m nervous about the darkness and length as I’m used to YA books hovering around 300 pages.

  6. I was excited for this book, but heard that is was getting mixed reviews, so I was on the fence. I never knew the details of the “mixed” reviews , but I think I’ll have to give this one a shot. I will probably go for the hard copy, but does reading it electronically change anything for you ? Like, is all the mixed media the same ?

    • Really? I haven’t seen anything but positively glowing reviews! Yes, definitely read the hard copy. The mixed media is tough to see on an e-reader. Takes away some of the atmosphere too.

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