Fiction Reviews


(2014) Christopher Golden, Headline, £13.99, hrdbk, 309pp, ISBN 978-1-472-20958-0


It is interesting that there is a quote on the cover of Snowblind by Stephen King ('Throw away all those old “It was a dark and stormy night” novels…this one if the real deal'), because on the surface of things, this novel bears a similarity to King’s screenplay for the TV mini-series Storm of the Century because in Golden’s novel and King’s story we both have tales of communities shut off by extreme weather and what lies waiting for the local people in these circumstances, especially as there is something riding both storms, hidden within it, but while King’s work focused on an island community – Little Tall island (the same place where he set Dolores Claiborne) and a mysterious, almost immoral stranger who has descended on the island and brings out the worst in the local population and exacts a terrible cost on one family in particular; Golden’s novel is almost a two-parter, with the snow storms striking the community of Coventry, Massachusetts twice, twelve years earlier when eighteen people died in mysterious circumstances when they were touched by the storm, and now for those who survived, their worst fears are being realised, another terrible snow storm is on its way, and what will it contain this time?

Golden is an old pro, author or co-author of many titles for adults and young adults, sometimes based on other franchises like Hellboy or Buffy or his own original work, with some of the joint enterprises co-written with the likes of Tim Lebbon or the late Rick Hautala, and one of my favourite novels is his book early book Strangewood, which just cries out to be turned into a film or TV series. so with a novel like Snowblind we can expect him to deliver a wide and varied cast of great characters, a great sense of place, and an evocation of eeriness and dread as the population of Coventry get jittery every time there is a snow storm and especially now that the big storm is back again.

Golden has brought together a varied cast that have had their lives changed by the events of twelve years ago, some in a good way, because it brought them together, or in a bad way because tragedy struck, or there are those in limbo, perhaps living in hope that those lost to them will return. As with the best horror writers – King, Straub, McCammon, and others. Golden assembles a multiple cast of characters from Doug Manning who lost his wife in the previous blizzard and has turned to crime to make ends meet (and it’s a testimony to Golden’s prowess skill as a writer that he can make a semi-professional thief a sympathetic character), to his nemesis, police detective, Joe Keenan, who has his own bad memories of that fateful night. Added to the mix are photographer Jake Schapiro whose brother died during the first blizzard, but while others had heartbreak, electrician T. J. Farrelly met his wife to be, Ella, but now years later his marriage is fraying at the edges and his daughter is starting to act strange, possibly because of all the bad vibes she is picking up in the house, or is it because she senses what’s coming to Coventry in this new storm?

After a gripping, chilling opening Snowblind settles down into a slow burner, concentrating on the psychological aspects of the story and the effects of the past and the impending future on the people of Coventry, rather than developing into an over-the-top blood and guts tale, so file under 'quiet horror; and alongside the likes of Ramsay Campbell and the late Charlie Grant, which is no bad thing.

Ian Hunter

See also Jonathan's take on Snowblind.

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