Thriller Reviews #1 – Night Film & The Girl on the Train

June 3, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Thriller Reviews #1 – Night Film & The Girl on the TrainNight Film by Marisha Pessl
Published by Cornerstone on August 29, 2013
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
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Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn't been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.

The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.

Gripping. Haunting. Thrilling. Night Film gripped me for one week of my life and wouldn’t let go. I couldn’t rest until I turned that final page and got to the bottom of the mysterious Cordova family.

Which is startling in itself, because my addiction describes the experience of investigative journalist Scott McGrath, who investigates Ashley Cordova’s death, the daughter of cult horror film director Stanislas Cordova. The family is shrouded in mystery, with everyone who ever worked with the film director refusing to talk about their experience. After a failed publicity blunder, Scott’s career was inadvertently ruined by Cordova, and he now has a personal vendetta to get to the bottom of the Cordova family.

“She was a bit like that cathedral. Rising up, stunning me, decaying, and then vanishing, leaving only her echo. And me, so uncertain of what I’d seen.” 

At 600 pages, it’s one of the biggest books I’ve read in a while, but I was never bored of Night Film. Written with such natural prose, the horrors described, the investigation of Ashley Cordova’s death and the enigma of the Stanislas Cordova swooped in and grabbed me. These two characters can only be described as a force, prodigies in film making and piano. They are brilliance personified, but should mere men be placed on such a pedestal? With legions of Cordovites or fans speculating about the man himself, you can only wonder what he really is like behind all the smoke and mirrors.

Sprinkled throughout the pages are snippets of medical reports, news articles, photos and interviews which make you feel like you’re in the midst of the investigation. It also made everything about Cordova and his cult films seem so real, almost as if the words brought his films to life in your head. They’re horrific, they’re gripping, they’re absolutely brilliant, in such a way where Night Film feels like it’s more than words. It’s an experience like no other.

It eats away at your mind without you even realizing it…It…isolates you, pits you against the world so you’re driven to the margins, the periphery of life. 

There’s an ominous vibe threaded through the entire novel, with Scott, Nora and Hopper constantly feeling as they’re being watched. Night Film will play tricks with your mind, and question your sanity. The investigation will lead in one direction, with an unforgettably obsessive narrator at it’s helm, but then facts will be revealed that make you question your belief. While the final reveal is more elegant than the big usual whammy, it left me with a lasting impression. Was the ending fact or fiction and is the thirst for knowledge finally abated?

The novel takes time to build, words upon words, facts upon fiction, multiple perspectives into an insane reality. It makes you suspect and experience a darkness like no other, a devil’s curse. While you just want to know the outcome with a sense of urgency, Night Film is worth reading cover to cover to get the full blown effect. At about 70%, it will launch into a crescendo of events which will leave you in shock and awe.

The closer you get to him, the speed of light slackens, information gets scrambled, ration minds grow illogical, hysterical. It’s warped space-time, like the mass of a giant sun bending the area surrounding it. You reach out to seize something so close to find it was never actually there.” 


I can hardly believe it’s over. Night Film wrapped it’s way into my heart and mind, inspiring me to write great words and haunting me to no end. I’m so glad it will be made into a movie, because this is how great stories are told. Everyone has a Cordova story, and this is mine.

Rating: 5 out of 5 (AMAZING.)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Review: Will Give You Trust Issues

Thriller Reviews #1 – Night Film & The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by Doubleday on January 15, 2015
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
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'Gripping, enthralling - a top-notch thriller and a compulsive read' S J WATSON, bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

If you took the time to look up from your phone or book while on public transport, what would you notice? The Girl on the Train takes a simple, everyday concept and morphs it into a nail biting thriller, where a girl on a train becomes a key witness for a missing person.

Rachel is an interesting, obsessive character who is deeply flawed as a raging alcoholic and struggling post-divorce. So what else does she do when she sees a happy couple every time the train goes past? She makes up ideal lives for them. But as we get intertwined deeper into the mystery, getting an insider perspective couldn’t be more different.

“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”

You’ll get several different point of views here, from the past, the present and from various people. Absolutely everyone could not trusted and had their own secrets. They were all dysfunctional, only projecting to people what they wanted them to see. Although I did end up predicting some of what happened, my mind was racing all the way through the novel wondering who the culprit was, Rachel’s memory loss and what really happened. The tension in this thriller was high, not knowing how things were going to unfold and being glued to the pages until you reached the final, chilling crescendo.

Adultery, depression, mental illness, domestic abuse and violence, The Girl on the Train makes us question what we see on the surface, and what’s behind closed doors. It makes you realise no one is as they seem, and we often project our own wishes, thoughts and feelings upon people we encounter. It’s amazing how much Rachel idealised her perfect couple, and the stark contrast that was presented as we got to know more about them. It makes us question, do we only see what we want to see?

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”


Although The Girl on the Train didn’t give me the mind fuck that Gone Girl did, I was still glued to its pages wanting to know what the final outcome would be. With a seemingly simple premise, the author morphs it into an overlapping web of intrigue, mystery and lies told through several unreliable narrators. If you love psychological thrillers, this is a great one to pick up and read on the train.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Thrilling.) 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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47 responses to “Thriller Reviews #1 – Night Film & The Girl on the Train

  1. I love a BIG read as long as it's because it packs a punch, not because of a long winded author. I actually have a copy of Night Film after seeing another reviewer who absolutely loved it too, but after it arrived it was put on the shelf to keep other books company. Clearly I need to grab it and read it soon. The Girl on The Train, it sound vaguely familiar, but I can't remember seeing too many reviews for that one, none that have made me want to purchase it. Until now. I love reading adult as pleasure reads, purely to enjoy and not have to review. So mark these two down, and hopefully I can get stuck into them soon too. Wonderful reviews Jeann, loving the mix of genres you're reading lately <3
    My recent post Three, Three Star Reads… Charming, Cutesy and The Bush Tucker Man

    • Absolutely, I just love those meaty reads that really immerse you as well. That is so exciting that you have a copy! It is quite intimidating as a big book, but you're pretty much guaranteed that it's going to be a great read. The Girl on the train has been on the NYT best seller list for ages, which is why it probably sounds familiar. Thanks Kelly, gotta mix it up a bit!

  2. WOOHOO, I'm so glad to hear that you loved Night Film Jeann, it was absolutely gripping and brilliant wasn't it?

    I've been eyeing off The Girl on the Train for a while now – I heard it's better than Gone Girl! Gone Girl was ok for me, I think I preferred the movie, so I'm definitely keen to give this book a go and see if it is better. 😀

    • So glad to hear you and Jess rave about it, because it definitely made me pick it up! I just loved it so much. Hmmm, I actually liked Gone Girl better, but I love my twists and turns.

  3. Faye M.

    FIRST OF ALL, I'M GLAD YOU LOVED GIRL ON THE TRAIN because that book was seriously… wow. Speechless girl right here on its brilliance. It wasn't thrilling like Gone Girl was thrilling, but it was more of a quiet thriller, and I loved that it was so much more character-driven… being in the minds of the characters made me feel so dirty but fascinated at the same time!

    And Night Film… gaaah. I want to read it so bad! You make it sound so good! I'm so all for this one – creepy vibes, medical reports and all. This is the kind of adult thriller I look for!
    My recent post Say It With Bubbles: Vampire Academy Movie Review

    • I love what you said about it being a quiet thriller, definitely not as big on the thrills and everything! Night Film, omg it was SO good Faye.

  4. Eugenia

    As always – two brilliant reviews Jeann! I just LOVED Night Film as well -it's one of the most unique and eerie thrillers I've ever read. I hope to read The Girl on the Train soon – it's gotten a lot of reserves at my library though so I may have to wait a while…
    My recent post Follower Appreciation Giveaway (AU)

    • Thank you Genie, Night Film was absolutely brilliant! I loved the whole experience. Yeah, I got mine out from the library as well.

  5. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I had heard different opinions on Girl on the Train but I wasn't sure if it was for me. I like pyschological thrillers though, so I think I may have to give it a try! (I take the train every day… so I think I may get a bit paranoid after reading this, won't I?). Great reviews, Jeann!

  6. Oh, you got me sold on both books! Especially Night Film…I want it!!! And you know how much of a sucker I am with psychological thrillers so I'm definitely reading The Girl on the Train, especially since Faye loved it too! Fabulous dual reviews Jeann! You got me excited for both! Ooh maybe they're on Scribd!
    My recent post DNF Review: The Murk by Robert Lettrick

  7. Lucy

    Glad you liked both very much! They sound so good. I've been wanting to read The Girl On The Train but after hearing relatively a lot of bad reviews it has put me of from buying it. But hearing you talk about it makes me want to read it again so hopefully I'll pick it up soon! 🙂
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    • Oh wow, I definitely haven't read many negative reviews about it because it's such a hyped book. Thanks Lucy!

  8. Dang it! I desperately want to read both books. I think I heard they're making Girl on the Train into a movie, so at least that'll give me a push. Wonderful reviews, they make me want to drop everything and dig in right this moment.
    My recent post The Martian by Andy Weir

    • A shame about The Girl on the Train, but I do hope you find the mood for it! Lol yeah, I've heard a lot about people being put off by NF.

    • I know, but if it's a good book I don't mind the length too much…just gotta be in the mood for it.

    • Thanks Tammy, Night Film was so good. I had so many chills while reading it and was totally rapt for the 600 pages.

  9. Both books I've been considering for AGES, both books I'm still interested in, both books that intimidate me just a little bit, you know? *sigh* Still, fantastic reviews Jeann, they sound amazing and you just tried to push me closer to reading them, one day..
    My recent post Book Review: Bruja

  10. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    I love thrillers! The Girl on the Train was awesome. I flew through that one. I haven't heard of Night Film but will be going out to find out more now (although 600 pages is big!!!). Beautiful reviews!
    My recent post My Time at BookCon

  11. WAIT. 600-pages!?? *gulps and backs away slowly* hhe, I have to be in a seriously intense frame of mind to tackle something so big, although, it does sound appealing. XD I don't think I'd ever tackle Girl on the Train. I like YA too much and Adult scares me. LEAVE ME WITH THE CRAYONS AND COLOURING BOOKS. Still, you make it sound really incredible. 😉 I'm tempted.