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.
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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.
“Anna Quinn writes with bright and assured authority, making this a remarkable debut novel you won’t soon forget. Her haunting story, expertly and lovingly crafted, leaves you breathless with both terror and hope.” —Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Quite the psychological tale. A third person narrative, this is a short story that this reader could have read in one setting but needed a break from the intense subject matter. Nora’s character is complex but relatable and the plot is a strong and disturbing emotional read. The subject matter is honest and intense, full of courage and is unforgettable, very much a book that will linger in your mind. There are trigger warnings as the book deals with child abuse, mental illness, and adultery in this story. The author wrote about a hard subject with a clear voice and is an author to be watched for future stories.” —Portland Book Review
“The Night Child is a powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel that struck a rare chord with me. When I recall Nora’s journey, I am affected viscerally, as if I were reliving her painful memories alongside her. ‘Must-read’ is not a phrase I use often; I am using it now: you must read this book!” —Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“What I had not expected was the surprise of being so completely in character with someone experiencing the kind of disassociation Quinn portrays…She made me care about Nora and identify with her. That’s a very wonderful and difficult accomplishment.” —Dorothy Allison, New York Times bestselling author
“Packed with riveting detail and radical emotional honesty…I can’t remember a novel in which I have been more deeply emotionally invested.” —Pam Houston, #1 Los Angeles Times bestselling author
“Beautiful and haunting…This profoundly intimate novel, which has its roots in memoir, examines the fragile line between past and present…The timing of [the] book with the #metoo movement is remarkable.” —Psychology Today
“Cassandra Campbell’s performance adds depth and nuance to each character and each memory.” —BookPage (audio review)
“A novel that will leave the reader shaken with its ramifications of the way crimes against children, hidden by adults, and buried in a child’s psyche, can resurface decades later and cause even more harm.” —New York Journal of Books
“This realistic, psychological thriller will appeal to those ready to celebrate the strength of a character profoundly marked by an unstable childhood. It will satisfy those who believe in recovery through the kindnesses, the knowledge, and the understanding of people willing to help others.” —Missourian (Columbia, Missouri)
“[A] story about a woman and a young girl; of the fragile line between past and present; of the capacity of mind, body and spirit to heal itself: ‘I was there to tell their story’…[The] novel offers perspective, gives voice to those healing from childhood sexual abuse.” —Port Townsend Leader (Washington)
“The Night Child is a powerful, heart-wrenching psychological tale…Characters are extremely well developed, especially Nora, whose difficulties connecting with people, be they her unfaithful husband or her energetic daughter, feel realistic…Though it is emotionally challenging to read, The Night Child’s gentle dealings with heavy subjects highlight the fragility of the human mind and the intense journeys required to heal deep wounds.” —Foreword Reviews
“Actress Campbell introduces Nora with a self-confident voice…Later, in the hospital, her normal speech gives way to a druggy dreaminess mixed with the childish natter of her Margaret personality…Together Quinn and Campbell present a vivid depiction of the soul-numbing ordeal of mental illness —Publishers Weekly (audio review)
“The Night Child is an exhilarating debut: Quinn immediately pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the final scene. She commands each page and expertly dives into the inner working of a broken mind. This fast-paced, riveting novel of coping with the past while trying to salvage life in the present is hard to put down.” —Booklist
“Quinn’s first novel sensitively explores a deteriorating mental-health condition…Haunting psychological suspense for readers who enjoy a generous dose of creepiness without being completely scared out of their wits. Fans of John Searles will be pleased.” —Library Journal
“Quinn presents breakthrough emotional trauma, PTSD, and dissociation with frighteningly beautiful accuracy…Her people demonstrate the frustration and shame that often accompany psychological issues arising from severe abuse. They also demonstrate pathways out…Quinn books us on a vivid expedition inside Nora’s mind as we scramble with her for its healing…Frightening and thrilling, a freight train of a read!” —Bill Ransom, author of Burn
“A wondrous journey into the heart of survival, and our power to save our own lives. Anna Quinn plumbs the mysteries of dissociation with lyrical courage, examining the tender line between our past and present. This is a remarkable book.” —Rene Denfeld, author of The Child Finder
“The galvanizing story of how the world ends and how it begins again: child by child.” —Rikki Ducornet, author of Brightfellow
“I loved this book so much…I entered Quinn’s book and lost myself and exited her book changed. She is hanging with the big dogs with this work…like Jodi Picoult and Ann Patchett.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
“The Night Child is beautiful, empowering—it shows us that on the other side of harrowing there is healing. Anna Quinn writes for those who have been silenced and gives them a voice in Nora.” —Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients
“A flat-out page-turner that will have readers riveted as Quinn seamlessly, breathlessly explores the result of an identity irrevocably fractured in childhood and one woman’s struggle to ease the girl she once was, protect her own young daughter, and reclaim sanity.” —Adrianne Harun, author of A Man Came out of a Door in the Mountain
“Anna Quinn has created a story that reads like a thriller, one with the beating heart of a vulnerable child, and with the urgency of a woman unlocking her own psychic drama. The Night Child asks a vivid question about who gets a voice, and offers up the power that comes from reconciling outcast parts of ourselves.” —Sonya Lea, author of Wondering Who You Are
“An incredible book. What is self? Love? Trust? Safety? The Night Child, both ‘fragile as bible paper’ and warrior in a lifelong quest for integration and healing, beautifully, artfully, and poetically carries each of us into the profound layered mysteries of our own minds and hearts.” —Susan Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words
“A wrenching, gorgeous, psychologically astute novel about a young mother and English teacher, Nora, whose unremembered childhood trauma returns to haunt her and threatens to wreck her ever-so-normal life. A story of family life—raw and not-so-sweet; an adored six-year-old daughter; a gay brother; the kindly shrink who stands by Nora; and the one man she can really talk to. A novel of trauma and healing that could not be more contemporary. So skillfully rendered: I could not stop reading.” —Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
“This book captivated me. My favorite stories are those that attempt to illustrate the most painful conflicts—those between parts of ourselves. Anna Quinn has written such a book and done so with tremendous empathy, propulsive storytelling, and great reverence for the complexity of healing, the ways that it breaks us apart so that we can be remade stronger.” —Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart
“Quinn’s debut novel is stunning in its profound emotional authenticity and the luminosity of the prose. Quinn doesn’t sugarcoat this story of terribly harmful familial relationships experienced by Nora, the sympathetic protagonist. Unblinkingly, Quinn leads the reader into the night-darkness of Nora’s riveting and harrowing narrative. At the same time, Nora’s quest for truth is, ultimately, transformative: for the protagonist and, as with only the very best fiction, for the reader as well.” —Sue William Silverman, award-winning author of Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You
“It definitely hooked me…Quinn tells her story masterfully and powerfully.” —Creative Loafing (Tampa Bay, Florida)
Anna Quinn owns the Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Bookstore in Port Townsend, Washington, where she has been named one of the city’s Patron of the Arts. She is a published poet and essayist with twenty-six years of experience teaching and leading writing workshops across the country.
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