Nora Brown teaches high school English and lives a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks — ”a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body — the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire — when you think you might die.”
Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. Shaken and unsteady, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered — a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.
This breathtaking debut novel examines the impact of traumatic childhood experiences and the fragile line between past and present. Exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate, The Night Child is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds.
At the end of teaching one of her English classes, Nora sees a young girl, an apparition of sorts. She’s quite taken aback by the vision and is concerned by other unexplained events that have impacted her life. Mother to Fiona, Nora knows she needs to find out from where the visions are coming; is she tired, stressed, overworked? This is not an isolated situation and Nora doesn’t want to risk an episode to occur when Fiona is with her.
Nora immediately goes to a neurologist and psychologist to determine what is causing these experiences. Memories from her childhood are revealed through these sessions; trauma that Nora’s brain has helped her to repress.
The Night Child by Anna Quinn is dark and tragic, a completely different story from what I was expecting. The writing is detailed with descriptions that will make even the hardened reader cringe at times. The character building is fabulous slowly exposing pieces of Nora’s life through the sessions with her psychologist.
I have to say I was not expecting the direction this book took and want to quickly remind you that parts of this book are intense and include sexual abuse and violence. With that in mind, this book is one that will stick with me for a long time.