Becket, walking her dog one winter evening, fears it’s an abandoned baby left out in the cold. But it is something else—something evil—and it tricks Becket into opening a doorway to another realm, letting a darkness into our world, a corruption that begins transforming Philadelphia into a sinister and menacing version of itself…but only at night.
The changes are subtle at first, causing Becket to doubt her senses and her sanity. But soon the nightmarish truth is impossible to deny: By day, the city is just a city, but at night it literally comes alive with malevolent purpose. Brick and steel become bone, streetlights turn into gallows, and hungry alleys wait to snare mortal victims. Terrified citizens huddle indoors after dusk, as others succumb to the siren song of the night, letting their darker sides run wild.
Once, Becket’s biggest problems were living up to her police commissioner father’s high expectations and a secret crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. Now she must find a way to survive and protect her loved ones…before the darkness takes her as well. (goodreads.com)
How horribly disappointing. It sounded so good and even the blurb by Kendare Blake, whom I love, said it was dark and horror-ridden and fantastic. I don’t normally give author blurbs any regard, but I love Blake’s work so yeah. It’s going to carry some weight.
The world itself was actually really awesome. This insidious infiltration of this other dark, fantastical world into modern Philadelphia was terrifying, the way things changed, the way things existed in the corner of your eye, maybe you were seeing things, maybe you weren’t. The build-up with that was fantastic. And then how people started to change and basically just live on their ids, creating terror where the constructs, inanimate objects come to life, couldn’t get. And how all of this happened at night and went back to normal during the day. It’s terrifying. It really is.
But that’s about all the good I found the book. Becks is a vaguely condescending teen who does NOTHING for 95% of the book before taking really dumb and poorly thought out action at the end that’s entirely antithetical to the “think everything through cop’s daughter” mentality she built up during the entire book. The entire book where if she’s not getting pushed around by her selfish friend, she’s either commuting to and from school or cowering in her house. Becks literally does not move the plot at all. It moves her. This is, like, a cardinal sin of writing. Yet here we are.
Right before I started reading this, I was listening to a bunch of podcasts that recap Point Horror novels and one book they were doing was real heavy in ableist language around mental illness. One of the podcasters deals with a mental illness on a daily basis and she expounded on how harmful this kind of language is and how likening a mental illness to the worst thing that could possibly happen to a person is so incredibly damaging.
Then I started reading NIGHTSTRUCK and was dumbstruck by the number of times terms like crazy and variations of spaz were used. Not to mention Becks thinking multiple times that she’d rather have a brain tumor than lose her mind (when trying to figure out if the night changes she was seeing were real). Had I not listened to those podcasts I don’t know if I would have been as sensitive to such language, but seeing as how I did listen, and how pervasive this language was, I felt like I was getting slapped every time I read it. It was incredibly heavy-handed in the first half of the book and then trickled down, but was still there. Kind of awful.
And then back to Becks’s condescension, because she’s supposed to be this enlightened, smart kid who’s in AP everything yet runs her mouth about mental illness like it’s nothing yet won’t call a dick a dick when she sees it in some iron work. It’s a phallic symbol. Every. Single. Time. Phallic symbol. And it was mentioned multiple times because it’s really what started drilling into Becks’s head in figuring out what’s going on. It’s the marker she uses to bring Luke into everything. Not a dick or a penis or a schlong. Phallic symbol. Yet she doesn’t know to cool her shit about mental illness. Slightly inconsistent there.
I wanted to like NIGHTSTRUCK so bad. The world is so creepy and how it comes into fruition is just fantastic. But everything else just sucks. Becks is a less-than-appealing character who is barely tolerable most of the time, inconsistent in her intelligence and decision-making abilities, and literally does nothing for most of the book. Great, so does she do a whole lot more nothing in the sequel? Guess I’m not going to find out because I’m not going to read it. And that makes me sad.