Snowblind by Christopher Golden
The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards…but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same.
Now, as a new storm approaches twelve 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 twelve years ago.
As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.
Christopher Golden kicks things off by introducing us to the residents of Coventry, Massachusetts. Each one of them seems to perfectly capture some facet of life in small town America. If you’ve ever read any Stephen King you’ll know exactly what I mean. It doesn’t matter if the characters are policemen, diner owners, teachers or petty criminals, within a couple of pages you feel like you’ve known these people their entire lives. All the tiny, seemingly inconsequential, details blend together to flesh out the bare bones of their various histories. Personally my favourite characters were Jake and his brother Issac. Torn apart and then thrust back together unexpectedly their journey was particularly heart-breaking.
The horror in Snowblind reads like an exercise in subtlety. With the exception of the novel’s chilling climax, you get the sense that the real terror is always happening just out of sight, just on the periphery of your vision. Rather than being a disappointment I actually found this quite a refreshing change. It creates a delicious sense of growing tension that Golden ekes out on each page. I always enjoy any horror novel that manages to effectively tap into that universal fear – the unknown. There is something just so damn primal about it. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from you can appreciate that feeling and relate to the uncertainty and ever-growing panic.
I’ve heard others compare this novel with the wonderful French television series, The Returned. There are certainly basic similarities between the two stories, but the plots also diverge enough so that they are significantly different. They can certainly both be appreciated under their own merits. If you enjoyed The Returned I think that there is a good chance that you’ll also enjoy Snowblind. Both have that same wonderfully menacing tone hidden just beneath what appears to be an innocent surface.
Ultimately, this is a story that is not just about isolation and horror, but also about opportunity and second chances. Characters get to take a leap of faith, in some cases metaphorical while in others quite literal. The storm, and the malevolent evil that lurks within, actually gives people a second chance. The opportunity to reconnect with something or someone they’ve lost, to properly say their goodbyes, to move on or to even start afresh.
Snowblind is published by Headline and is available now.