6 books that will keep you up all night reading

Special to Lowcountry LifeJune 3, 2012 

There are those of us for whom circadian rhythms find us up at dawn and sleepy shortly after dinner; the hours of darkness that we miss always seem a bit magical. The following books with "night" in the title all seem to reinforce that idea.

'The Night Strangers'

If you are a fan of classic New England horror stories, try "The Night Strangers" by Chris Bohjalian. Commercial pilot Chip Linton's failure to land his disabled plane on a lake results in the death of 39 people. As part of the therapy to relieve his PSTD, he moves his wife and twin daughters to New Hampshire. In their new basement is a mysterious door bolted shut with 39 carriage bolts. Is the evil in Linton's guilt-ridden mind or in the town that surrounds them?

'The Book of Night Women'

James Marlon's "The Book of Night Women" is an extraordinary historical novel of Jamaican slavery. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the 18th century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they -- and she -- will come to both revere and fear. Warning: this book is very graphic in both language and imagery. Depicted clearly here is how detrimental a society based upon racism is for all involved.

'Midsummer Night'

In Freda Warrington's, "Midsummer Night," a contemporary fantasy set at the intersection of our world and the Aetheriel one, Gill Sharma has just arrived from London on a retreat to Cairndonan, a dilapidated mansion in the highlands of northwest Scotland, to nurse her injuries from a recent accident in solitude and peace. The mansion's owner, Dame Juliana Flagg, a world-renowned and increasingly eccentric artist, is producing eerie sculptures that she can't bear to show or sell. Once Gill stumbles across the portal between worlds, the action never stops.

'The School of Night'

"Call me. The School of Night is back in session." Thus begins Louis Bayard's "The School of Night," which moves between the present time, where Alonzo Wax left the above cryptic message for Henry Cavendish shortly before committing suicide, and the 17th century, where five brilliant scholars gather under the cloak of darkness to discuss God, politics, astronomy and the black arts. The transitions between centuries is seamless and the relationship between the two is fascinating.

'Night Magic'

A modern retelling of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," set in New York City, Tom Tryon's last book, "Night Magic," tells of a young street performer who encounters an oddly dressed old man. The performer soon finds himself torn between life as he has come to know it and an apprenticeship that commits him to the study of black magic.

'The Night Circus'

No listing of books about night and magic would be complete without the stunningly original debut novel by Erin Morgenstern, "The Night Circus." The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night. The two main characters, Celia and Marco, are bound together in a magical competition. They were chosen as children, had no choice in the matter, and do not understand the parameters of the competition or how a winner will be chosen. They are pawns, but they take a dark situation and create light.

Jan Campbell is the circulation representative at the Hilton Head Island Branch of the Beaufort County Library System, 11 Beach City Road.

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