Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Snowblind

Reviewer’s Note: This review contains discussion of spoilers.

‘SNOWBLIND’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

If you want to ensure you never encounter the menace found in ‘Snowblind’ all you need to do is move to Florida.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

In Christopher Golden’s first horror novel in more than a decade – a work reminiscent of early Stephen King – Snowblind updates the ghost story for the modern age. The small New England town of Coventry had weathered 1,000 blizzards…but never one like this, where people wandered into the whiteout and vanished. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same.
Now, as a new storm approaches 12 years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. Photographer Jake Schapiro mourns his little brother, Isaac, even as – tonight – another little boy is missing. Mechanic and part-time thief Doug Manning’s life has been forever scarred by the mysterious death of his wife, Cherie, and now he’s starting over with another woman and more ambitious crimes.
Police detective Joe Keenan has never been the same since that night, when he failed to save the life of a young boy…and the boy’s father vanished in the storm only feet away. And all the way on the other side of the country, Miri Ristani receives a phone call…from a man who died 12 years ago.
As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.
Spellbinding in scope and rooted deeply in classic storytelling, Snowblind is a chilling masterpiece that is both Christopher Golden’s breakout book and a standout supernatural thriller.
©2014 Christopher Golden (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, Inc.


THE PLOT:

The town of Coventry Massachusetts experiences a horrible blizzard that takes the lives of some 18 citizens. Those who are left behind are faced with the challenges of coping with the aftermath in their own ways. Twelve years later, another blizzard hits the city and brings with it more than just memories of the previous big one.
As a person living in a state with eventful winter weather, I’m not sure that blizzards are used as a back drop for horror as often as they could be. But this isn’t just a book about blizzards and the creatures that live inside them.
This book is about chances at redemption, second chances and perhaps some moral questions for the reader to have to tackle. Detective Keenan would like to redeem himself for his inability to save a pair of young boys during the first storm. Doug Manning would like to redeem himself for not being there for his wife and TJ wants to redeem himself for not being there for his mother.
The Schapiros and Miri Ristani want a second chance at a family as they were on the verge of building one before the storm took it away.
The two characters that felt the most real to me were TJ and Ella. They experience the types of problems that can come from having a child so soon into a relationship. Their daughter was conceived during the big blizzard and they were married before they really knew each other. Their marriage is troubled, they clearly love each other but they can’t seem to stop themselves from hurting their partner. Add to that the problems that come from difficult economic times and it seems as though the odds were stacked against them. I found myself caring about their relationship and very much wanted them to succeed.
There are a couple of things that did not work for me. One of them was the character of Angela Ristani. We hear throughout the story just what kind of person she is but we don’t get to see it for ourselves. We are told by her x-husband, daughter and an x-lover that she is a bitch. In fact, that is her defining character trait but we don’t get to see that nature for ourselves. When we first really see her she has already been possessed by the spirit of Doug’s x-wife and her former best friend. I think Angela’s change in attitude and personality would have felt more jarring if we had some of the old Angela first instead of hearing about it from characters who understandably would have thought less of her.
There is one plot point that I feel could have been dropped entirely. A boy named Charlie dies in the blizzard and his ghost comes back and possesses the body of a young man named Ned who works for Charlie’s dad. The characters involved in this particular plot point are minor, only around briefly and their story is the same story as that of other characters. In fact, what became of those characters is not even discussed in the late stages of the novel. If that thread had been cut entirely and that time devoted to Angela Ristani, this would have been a much tighter story.
I thought the book’s climax was wonderful. I found myself wondering who would survive and who would die. There were times I was convinced everyone would live and times I was convinced nobody would live. It certainly grabbed and held my attention until the end. The scenes with the police, Schapiros and Miri fighting for their lives were very tense.


THE AUTHOR:

Christopher Golden is an author of novels, comic books, video games and other media. After reading this book, I would definitely read another of Golden’s novels. Not because I was blown away by this one necessarily but because I want a larger sample size to gage his tendencies and writing style. Golden points out something in the novel which I could not help but appreciate. Ms. Schapiro is using the microwave to make popcorn at one point but does not use the popcorn button found on the machine because that generaly leads to burnt popcorn. Her work around on this is the exact same one that I use and I suspect most people use when they make microwave popcorn. A nice bit of observational commentary.
There is one continuity point that I found annoying but probably wouldn’t be noticed by a majority of readers. [spoiler]Miri Ristani flies back to Coventry from Seattle because that is where she now resides. At the end of the book, she is talking to Jake Schapiro and invites him to visit her in . . . Portland.[/spoiler] I have hidden it behind a spoiler button but it really isn’t a critical story point just something that someone should have noticed.


THE NARRATION:

After listening to Peter Berkrot’s performance, I needed to go and listen to other samples of his work. I needed to determine if the raspy tone I detected throughout the narration was a stylistic choice or if that was just his regular speaking voice and that’s what got him the part. I now believe it was a stylistic choice and it worked well for me. The raspy narration feels a bit cold and that matches the coldness of the environment. If someone listened to his performance and found it to be a bit too raspy I would understand but it worked for me.


THE PRODUCTION:

There are no sound effects present on the track. There is some haunting music to open and close the story but the music stops before the narration of the actual story begins. Chapter stops are in all the right places with 22 in total. Otherwise there were no noticeable glitches to be found and the volume stayed at a consistent level throughout.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

In the interest of full disclosure, I am far from a hardcore fan of horror fiction. As a result, I can not speak accurately as to what is interesting concept in ‘Snowblind’ and what is horror cliche.
I have very mixed feelings about this novel. I did enjoy reading it but the more time I spent thinking about it after the fact, the more issues that I started to notice. So my feeling is that this is a fun read if you don’t think about it too hard.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Snowblind Christopher Golden Peter Berkrot Brilliance Audio Horror 01/21/2014 11 hours, 35 minutes 6.75/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘Snowblind’ was purchased from Audible for review.

Advertisements