Title: The Night Guest
Author: Fiona McFarlane
Genre: Fiction / mystery
Rating: 4.5 / 5
I read this book right after I finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and I couldn’t help notice some similarities. Both books center on two women who are, largely, alone together in a house. Both deal heavily with dependence, isolation, abuse, and the corruption or slipperiness of the mind. They are both eerie and tinged with something that could be, feels like–but isn’t quite–magical realism. While Shirley Jackson’s language is deceptively simple, almost (but not quite) masking the reality, McFarlane writes with distinct and evident skill in prose that is poetic and elegant and ends up going in the other direction, making the reader wonder whether there is actually more going on than the obvious.
This book is well-crafted and gorgeously written. Some of the sentences and paragraphs in it were just beautiful, the type of writing that I am always on the lookout for. It is worth reading for the language alone, quite apart from anything else about it. But it also has other great features, like the characters, the commentary, and the questions it raises for pondering. It’s all extremely well done, especially for a first novel, and I’ll be looking out for more from Fiona McFarlane.