Marisha Pessl faced a nightmare known to only the luckiest novelists. Pessl’s debut, 2006′s Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was a smash critical and popular success that fetched a 6-figure advance, and now she needed to produce a follow-up that somehow topped it. Unlike many others, Pessl resisted the temptation to stick with a winning formula; instead she used a broad canvas to produce a novel that is in every way bigger, more ambitious, and more satisfying than her splashy debut.

Pessl’s new novel is called Night Film. Some may call it a “literary thriller,", though a genre label is as pointless as a plot summary for a novel as ectoplasmic and slippery as this one. On its base level, Night Film is an exoneration quest by Scott McGrath, a disgraced journalist who once tried to penetrate the shell of a reclusive filmmaker named Stanislav Cordova — only to get sued by Cordova and lose everything. Cordova’s disturbing films, which give the novel its title, have developed a cult following that is literally underground: the movies are so shocking that they’re shown only at secret screenings in tunnels under cities. 

Night Film is a supremely twisted book. As a work of suspense it is top-notch. Pessl has created a story that twists around in on itself, that is at once completely consistent and ever-changing. It isn't often that a novel of 600 pages can be said to simply fly by, but such is the case with Night Film. It sucks you in in a way that makes it possible to sit down and read 200–300 pages in a single sitting.

Just make sure you're not home alone when reading it. Yes, it's that terrifying!