The Midnight Club Show vs Book: Biggest Differences Explained – Screen Rant

There are many differences between Mike Flanagan’s Netflix horror show The Midnight Club and Christopher Pike’s original 1994 book of the same name.
Warning: Contains spoilers for The Midnight Club season 1. Netflix's adaptation of The Midnight Club differs significantly from the 1994 book by Christopher Pike. The show and the novel both focus on a group of terminally ill teens in a hospice care facility and the scary stories that they tell one another at their clandestine midnight meetings. Many of the Midnight Club book's elements, including the setting and several of the characters, carry over to the TV series with minor changes. Still, readers of the source material will notice some big differences between the show and the book.
Like series co-creator Mike Flanagan's other horror series on Netflix, The Midnight Club takes a few liberties with its source material. Though the book has some mystical elements, it isn't really considered a horror novel, and some changes seem calculated to align the show more closely to Flanagan's signature horror idiom. Other changes seem intended to accommodate the realities of an ongoing TV series. Here are some of the biggest differences between the Midnight Club book and show.
Related: What Anya's Ballerina Statue Means For The Midnight Club's Kids
The TV adaptation of The Midnight Club jettisons a major plot line from the novel. The book version of Ilonka has nightly dreams about a cryptic figure called the Master. Those dreams vary in setting, from Ancient Egypt to India, but they all involve Ilonka and the Master — who does not appear as one of The Midnight Club's onscreen characters — seeking each other out. Ilonka interprets these dreams as memories of her past lives, in which she and the Master are forever reincarnated as lost soulmates. She comes to believe that Kevin is the current incarnation of the Master and that she and Kevin are destined to be together.
The Midnight Club show omits the Master altogether, along with Ilonka's dreams and any notion of past lives or reincarnation. The TV Ilonka instead has waking visions of Brightcliffe in earlier days where she is haunted by a ghost who appears as a menacing old woman and chases her through the house. Kevin has corresponding visions in which he's pursued in the Midnight Club adaptation by a threatening old man. Swapping out historical vignettes for ghosts in an old house, Flanagan delivers the kind of show his fans expect. A common criticism of Pike's novel is that it contains too little of the supernatural creepiness promised by the marketing on the book jacket. Flanagan, meanwhile, has produced a horror show that set a Guinness World Record for most jump scares in one episode.
The Midnight Club novel's storyline with Ilonka and Kevin as reincarnated soulmates makes their relationship much more prominent in the book than it is in the show. The book develops their romance much further, with Ilonka successfully breaking up Kevin and Katherine. Ilonka and Kevin sleep together, she has to cope with his death, and the epilogue follows them together in the afterlife. Their courtship unfolds much more slowly onscreen, where they only share their first kiss by the end of the season. Mike Flanagan has hinted that season 2 of The Midnight Club will probably see their relationship continue to grow. Whatever the show's future, though, the slower pace of their relationship works well in the context of season 1.
The club in Christopher Pike's Midnight Club novel only had five members. Ilonka, Kevin, Anya, Spence, and Sandra appear in the book, while Natsuki, Amesh, and Cheri are new characters created for the series. The club being bigger with more characters makes sense for a 10-episode adaptation of a 223-page book, and the new characters add a lot to the show. Natsuki and Amesh are engaging characters individually, and their relationship has some touching moments. Cheri's outlandish lies in the Midnight Club series provide plenty of comic relief, yet the compassion she shows by giving a fancy wig to Ilonka keeps her endearing despite her lying habit. The show's writers skillfully weave the characters into the group dynamic, and they feel like natural parts of the show.
Related: What The Hourglass Symbol Really Means In The Midnight Club
The Midnight Club novel and show both devote a substantial portion of the narrative to the stories within the story. The short tales that the club members trade at their midnight library meetings inform the overarching tale with symbolism, foreshadowing, and character parallels. Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the original yarns from the book gets told in the TV version. Anya's story about "The Two Danas" in episode 2 is largely the same as Anya's tale in the novel, but the Netflix series otherwise discards the other stories from the book.
In place of the book's interstitial stories, The Midnight Club's televised characters tell stories drawn from other works by author Christopher Pike. In episode 5, "See You Later," Amesh tells a tale of romance and time travel straight from the pages of Pike's novel of the same name. These substitutions work well, and as a result, the show’s midnight stories are tight, condensed versions of some of Pike's best work. The season 1 episodes "The Wicked Heart," "Gimme A Kiss," "Witch," and "The Eternal Enemy" all share their titles with the Pike books whose stories they retell in the Midnight Club series.
In addition to Amesh, Cheri, and Natsuki, Netflix rounds out the supporting cast of The Midnight Club with more newly created roles. Brightcliffe's neighbor Shasta doesn't appear in the novel, and neither does Mark, the nurse practitioner who befriends Spencer and helps him reconcile with his estranged mother. Dr. White, the book's supervising physician who oversees the Rotterdam Home hospice facility, is replaced in the series by Dr. Georgina Stanton, who runs Brightcliffe Hospice.
Shasta makes a memorable impression as Julia Jayne with her sacrificial rite in Brightcliffe's secret chamber. Yet Dr. Stanton upstages her in the final scene of season 1 with the reveal of her tattoo of the hourglass symbol. The last-minute revelation that the hospice patients' caregiver has some connection to the Paragon cult sets Stanton up to be an even more important character in season 2 if Netflix decides to renew The Midnight Club.
The Midnight Club season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.
Next: The Midnight Club's Biggest Unanswered Questions (There's A Lot)
Jim Korioth, a lifelong sci-fi fan, is a Core Features Author for Screen Rant. He has a BA in English and Music from Trinity University, and a JD and an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. Born and raised in Texas, he practiced law and played cello in rock bands in Austin for years before abruptly relocating to rural northern Minnesota, just in time for the 2014 polar vortex winter. He now lives in Minneapolis where, in addition to writing for Screen Rant, he is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer. He is the proud papa of three cool kids. His favorite Doctor is Tom Baker. His favorite Star Trek: The Original Series episode is “The Tholian Web,” but he will always have a soft spot for “The Way to Eden.” His favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episode is “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” His favorite Trek movie is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

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