The Night Child: description and reviews

A Novel

By Anna Quinn

Blackstone Publishing

Pub Date Jan. 30, 2018


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.

Advance Praise

”A powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel…’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

The Night Child is a powerful, heart-wrenching psychological tale…writing is sparse and eloquent, slipping in and out of Nora’s fractured mind in a way that is fascinating and enthralling. Characters are extremely well developed, especially Nora, whose difficulties connecting with people, be they her unfaithful husband or her energetic daughter, feel realistic. 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 Review

“Anna Quinn is a brave writer. This wrenching debut novel occupies a place in literature that has lain dormant for decades; kudos to Quinn for bringing dark business out into the light of day for a good airing.It’s tempting to say this novel is the twenty-first century’s answer to Sybil, but that doesn’t do it justice. Nora’s struggle to find the self that is held beneath layers and layers of emotional scar tissue, to heal herself so that she can be a good mother to Fiona, is one that we carry with us long after the book is over. Those that face serious mental health issues themselves will see vindication. Those that have family members or other loved ones working to unify a personality fragmented by trauma may see themselves as Paul, who’s juggling his own needs, those of his daughter, his love for Nora, and the crushing burnout that comes of living with a partner facing all-absorbing mental illness over a lengthy period of time. -Seattle Book Mama

“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

“Haunting psychological suspense…”— Library Journal

“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. For me this book is about destruction and creation. It revolves around the early destruction of a child and her recreation (survival) as an adult, the destruction of an adult once her past explodes into her present tense and her recreation-tenuous but real-into the next chapter of her life…Readers will love it.”
Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and The Book of Joan

“What I had not expected was the surprise of being so completely in character with someone experiencing the kind of disassociation Quinn portrays. I don’t think I have ever read such a strong rendition from the inside of such a dilemma, and more complexly, she made me care about Nora and identify with her. That’s a very wonderful and difficult accomplishment.”
-Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller

“Packed with riveting detail and radical emotional honesty, motored by a powerful (what I think of as a “life depends upon it”) authorial voice, this book does at least fifteen things novels are not supposed to be able to do.  I won’t name them, but I will tell you that it will stand you up against yourself in all the best ways possible. You will love this night child, and she will remind you to love the night child inside you. I can’t remember a novel in which I have been more deeply emotionally invested. “

-Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted

“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 and Abandon Me


“Stay with this book, this author. She will tell you the galvanizing story

of how the world ends and how it begins again: child by child.”

— Rikki Ducornet, author of Brightfellow and Netsuke.

“In her absorbing debut The Night Child, Anna Quinn melds an escalating domestic drama with a sharp psychological thriller. The result: 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

“The best books in any genre come from fearless writers. They thrill us with breathtaking discoveries of what it means to be human among humans, and they press the naked, sweaty body of danger tight against the reader to do it. They snatch us back from the brink so that we sniff and feel the character’s trauma—physical or emotional—without permanent damage to us, innocent readers. We suspend disbelief when we open a book, then we close the book with a fresh perspective on human problems that bedeviled the people bound between its covers. A skydiver pulls the ripcord and the moment the chute hasn’t opened yet can last forever, death rushing up, rushing up, terror forever, forever, then whoosh!, feet in the air the thrill of life and a loud “Yahoo!” Anna Quinn’s The Night Child from Blackstone Publishing is that book.

Quinn presents breakthrough emotional trauma, PTSD and dissociation with frighteningly beautiful accuracy. A debilitating convergence of fractured and charged memories collides with work and family pressures, blackouts and incremental, speechless fear. Her people demonstrate the frustration and shame that often accompany psychological issues arising from severe abuse. They also demonstrate pathways out—a trusted therapist, a friend, a family member—founded on intentional listening, once the afflicted person summons courage to speak. In The Night Child, we follow Nora Brown, a high-school English teacher, whose “… mind is a collision, a multivehicle accident. No survivors.” Anna Quinn books us on a vivid expedition inside Nora’s mind as we scramble with her for its healing. In short, The Night Child is a remarkable, gutsy, beautifully written journey through darkness and into light, frightening and thrilling, a freight train of a read! – Bill Ransom, Co-author with Frank Herbert of the Pandora Sequence.

The Night Child is beautiful and 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 Lost Art of Mixing and The School of Essential Ingredients.

Anna Quinn’s first novel is a wondrous journey into the heart of survival, and our power to save our own lives. Quinn plumbs the mysteries of dissociation with lyrical courage, examining the tender line between our past and present. This is a remarkable book, full of healing and redemption. -Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted and The Child Finder

“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, author, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You and Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir

“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.” –#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Wiggs

“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 6-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

“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

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A Note From the Publisher

Author Biography:

Anna Quinn’s writing has appeared in Writers’ Digest, Psychology Today, Literature Circles and Response, Instructor, Washington 129 Anthology and more. Her debut novel, “The Night Child”, published by Blackstone Publishing, was recently listed as a #1 Amazon bestseller in Psychological Literary Fiction, and selected as Ingram’s 2018 Best Book Club Book. She is the founder of the Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Books in Port Townsend and has twenty-eight years of experience teaching and leading writing workshops across the country. When she isn’t writing, she’s kayaking the Salish Sea or hiking in the Olympic Rainforest.