(2014) Christopher Golden, Headline, £13.99, hrdbk, 309pp, ISBN 978-1-472-20958-0
Starting of a little over a decade ago, a small US community gets hit by a severe snowstorm. There are all the usual things: downed power lines, blocked roads, folk snowed in.., it was a great storm. Most were getting through, but not everyone would. There were things in the swirling snow storm, things that preyed upon humans… At least that was what some of the weirder stories told. What was certain was that some did not make it through the storm. This in itself was not unusual: it was a very bad storm. Some, though, vanished: their fate unknown. This was unusual, but not inexplicable: it was a very bad storm!
And so life went on. People carried on with their lives and loves, and hopes and aspirations. A police officer struggles with his memories of the storm. A garage mechanic struggles between doing the bidding of a couple of local bullies helping them rob homes. A brother mourns his sibling lost in the storm. And the years pass…
In the present day another harsh winter is forecast and another severe storm is on the way. As the weather closes in, memories re-surface. A car skids into a river killing the parent drivers with the kid passenger now missing. The father formerly missing years ago in the first storm appears briefly to members of his family. A young brother returns, but still a child as if the years have not passed. A series of robberies is planned. And the worst of the storm has yet to hit…
Golden is an established author of novels, graphic novels, media tie-in video games among other creative ventures. He has form.
Snowblind itself is a slow-burn horror with a fantasy riff (I deliberately will not say more than that). Although those of you who have been following my reviews over the years know that sometimes I refer to slow-burn as a warning of possible bloat and that I hate bloat: a fine work does not need padding. Well let me make it clear for this book, Snowblind is decidedly slow-burn, but don't take this as derogatory criticism; Snowblind's slow-burn really does add to the novel's enjoyment. This is not a book to rush, but to savour, curled up on a dark winter's night. Golden taps into our primal fear of the dark and the trepidation a fierce storm brings. This really is one of those proverbially atmospheric books, even if the atmosphere comes with the icy swirl of snow and its blocking out of the light. Stephen King says on the cover promo: 'Throw away all those old it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night novels… this one is the real deal.' And indeed this is one of those not very common occasions where an author's cover promo really is bang on. Shut your doors, close your windows, do everything you can to keep out the draughts… and I truly promise you, you might, you might just survive reading this novel.
See also Ian's take on Snowblind.
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