Night After Night by Phil Rickman

Rating 8.5/10
A scary story, very well written and, best of all, doesn’t give away all of the answers.

Contains scenes some viewers may find disturbing... Leo Defford doesn't believe in ghosts. But, as the head of an independent production company, he does believe in high-impact TV. Defford hires journalist Grayle Underhill to research the history of Knap Hall, a one-time Tudor farmhouse that became the ultimate luxury guesthouse... until tragedy put it back on the market. Its recent history isn't conducive to a quick sale, but Defford isn't interested in keeping Knap Hall for longer than it takes to make a reality TV show that will run night after night... A house isolated by its rural situation and its dark reputation. Seven people, nationally known, but strangers to one another, locked inside. But this time, Big Brother may not be in control.

Night After Night takes the classic Big Brother reality show concept and turns it into Big Other – seven celebrities are enclosed within the walls of a Tudor farmhouse, some of whom are sceptics, and some believers. Once owned by the luminous Trinity Ansell who was obsessed with, and wanted to be haunted by, Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, the house lies emptied after her tragic death.

I found Night After Night deliciously creepy and claustrophobic, with the brooding farmhouse and its grim past taking centre stage – a constant background menace increasing the tension as Big Other is prepared and aired. The story is told from the perspective of Grayle Underhill, an American journalist who used to be involved in ‘alternative’ ways of thinking, but who has tried to leave that behind her. Unfortunately she has to take the job as researcher for Big Other in order to keep her career, however unwilling she is to get involved, and as the celebrities are cajoled into accepting very well paid positions in the house she digs deeper and deeper into the house’s history and the misery which seems to have lingered.

This isn’t a ‘classic’ ghost stories in many ways – the whole point of the programme being made is that it should explore different experiences and theories on whether ghosts are real or not, but in addition to this there is clearly something going on at Knapp Hall which cannot be explained, something which bypasses reason and makes people react with a very primal fear. The transportation of a very modern TV show concept with hidden cameras and manipulation also wonderfully jars with the Tudor backdrop of the hall and I could really feel the grating tension building throughout the story.

With Halloween this is obviously an excellent time of year for a scary story, but Night After Night is also very well written and, best of all, doesn’t give away all of the answers.

This Night After Night book review was written by

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Night After Night reader reviews

from UK

9-stars

It helps if you have read Will Kingdom's books, even though this one is billed as a 'stand alone'. This is a level beyond, however, as layers of disturbance are probed all the way back to prehistoric Belas Knap. Nothing is certain; everything is suggested, and the various characters react in interesting and enlightening ways. Cindy is a delight (as always), and the atmosphere is very well crafted. Two reasons for the 9, as opposed to 10: the basis for the murder wasn't quite solid enough, and the climax was too fractured (as it was in the second John Dee book). Otherwise, brilliant: thank you, Phil Rickman.

from Australia

7-stars

As a longtime fan of Phil Rickman I was very pleased to learn he had written a new novel. Having just finished it I now feel let down. The story line was predictable, the characters never seemed to develop and the action moved very slowly. It made sound strange but it lacked drama. The ending was surprising but not shocking. I will reread it in the near future to see if a second look reveals anything new. I hope it will.

8.2/10 from 3 reviews

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