What Happens at Night

A journey to adopt a baby in a distant, northern European city tests a married couple in What Happens at Night, a menacing, suspenseful novel by Peter Cameron (Coral Glynn), its mood occasionally lightened by grim humor in the dialogue. Their journey from the United States had been difficult even before they arrive at their gloomily grandiose hotel. The wife is life-threateningly ill, which has made it nearly impossible for them to adopt. The nearby orphanage may be her last hope for a child before she dies, and to ensure her husband still has a family when she is gone. But there's another institution nearby that draws travelers to make the long train ride: a healer named Brother Emmanuel.

A vaguely surreal setting (the available food is either an elaborate meal with far too many courses or whatever can be scrounged from the bar; the room doors were salvaged from an old opera house) and fellow residents at the hotel who are either mysterious or too intimate by turns create a sense of unease. The atmosphere untethers the unnamed couple, leading them to doubt what they thought they knew about themselves and why they came there. Their lack of options beyond waiting and the absence of purpose in most of their day leaves them with little to do but question, and the novel will keep readers on tenterhooks, wondering how the tension will break. By the end, the couple will undergo changes far beyond the adoption of the child that brought them there. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

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