Snowblind by Christopher Golden

snowblind

by Christopher Golden

reviewed by Michelle Richmond

It is the dead of winter, and the small New England town of Coventry is bracing for a blizzard. By the time the apocalyptically brutal storm has passed, many of Coventry’s citizens will be dead or vanished. Among the victims is little Isaac Schapiro, whose brother Jake laughed off Isaac’s terrified description of the Ice Men, until he realized that the phantoms Isaac saw in the wind outside their window were real. Niko Ristani, who is engaged to Isaac’s mother Allie, is also dead. Some of the lost citizens of Coventry suffered violent, inexplicable injuries; others simply vanished into the storm.

Twelve years later, the loved ones of the dead and missing have repaired their lives to varying degrees, moving on but rarely flourishing. Several of the living are shrouded in guilt. Police Detective Joe Keenan is haunted by his failure to save a young boy who was electrocuted while out sledding, and still confounded by the disappearance of the boy’s father. Doug Manning, who didn’t make it home to save his wife Cherie, has turned to a life of petty crime.  TJ, a musician, left his mother on her own that night to be with a woman named Ella on whom he’d long had a crush. Now, TJ’s marriage to Ella is crumbling.

As the new monster storm descends upon Coventry, those who remember the earlier blizzard that cost their town so much shudder at the memories. And then strange things begin to happen. A family of three crashes into the frozen river, but the body of the couple’s young son is nowhere to be found. Eleven-year-old Grace, TJ’s daughter, begins acting so strangely that he hardly recognizes her. A young police officer named Torres seems bent on reminding Keenan of his failure to save the life of the young Wexler boy. Miri Ristani receives a phone call from her dead father.

Snowblind builds with a sure, inescapable tension that will keep readers turning pages. One feels deeply for the characters, particularly Jake, as they face their individual and all-too-real demons. The climactic spirits-versus-humans fight scene that plays out over dozens of pages seems designed for the big screen and may cause some readers to toss the book aside in frustration. That said, readers who buy into the bigger-than-your-average-ghost fantasy will race to the end to find out what becomes of these broken, courageous characters. In Snowblind, Golden has created a terrifying, utterly gripping modern-day ghost story that will force  you to consider the choices you would make if someone you loved, and tragically lost, were to suddenly appear on your doorstep.

St. Martin’s Press, January 21, 2014  ISBN 978-1250015310

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Reviewed by Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog and Golden State.