Book review: ‘Snowblind’ by Christopher Golden

Posted Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Snowblind

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by Christopher Golden

St. Martin’s Press, $25.99

Audiobook: Brilliance Audio, $62.97; read by actor Peter Berkrot.

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Cold weather makes the timing ideal to pick up a copy of Snowblind.

This paranormal horror novel by Christopher Golden is about the creepy things, and evil things, that manifest in a New England town during a deadly blizzard.

First, the spirits of those who died or disappeared 12 years earlier in the storm of the decade return, inhabiting the bodies of the living.

Then there’s an old-school, translucent ghost that presents itself, bringing an ominous warning for residents of Coventry, Mass.

Finally, the arrival of malevolent ice men — frozen bogeymen with hideous teeth, icicle fingers, steel-blue eyes and an insatiable hunger for the warmth, and souls, of the living — makes Snowblind (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99) truly chilling.

Stephen King, the master of this genre, suggests in a blurb on the cover that it’s good reading “even in the middle of July.” But we think it reads best on a frigid evening, with a stiff north wind howling outside.

We talked with Golden last week about Snowblind.

Did a dramatic event such as a killer blizzard trigger this story? Or was it something more subtle, like being creeped out by a child who said something eerily too mature for someone her age?

More the former than the latter. The overall trigger was a terrible ice storm we had in New England a few years ago. It wasn’t a blizzard; it was an ice storm. I know people who went without power for two weeks.

Also, in Massachusetts in 1978, when I was a kid, we had a blizzard that shut down the whole state. School was canceled for a week. No public vehicles were allowed on the road. If you wanted to go to the grocery store, you would go to the end of your street and wait for a bus to take you to the store and back. It was terrible. Just days of snow and snow and more snow.

Memories of that, combined with this ice storm of a few years ago, put a thought in my mind: If I were a criminal and I knew of a neighborhood of wealthy people where there would be no power and no alarm systems, it would be a great time to go burglarize their homes. And that’s exactly what one of the characters does in the book.

How meaningful is it to you to have Stephen King praise your book?

It’s impossible to overstate it. Stephen King is the narrative voice of my youth. I started reading him when I was about 10 or 11 years old. The fact that he usually writes supernatural fiction has made people underestimate him. He is, in my mind, one of the finest American novelists we’ve ever had.

So, it means a great deal for me to have the blurb. But even more than that, we had a series of emails that were exchanged while he was reading the book. He made additional comments beyond the blurb and those emails mean the world to me.

What scares you as a reader?

There’s very little in fiction that scares me. Reality is what scares me. Still, I love this genre. This is my wheelhouse. I’ve loved weird, creepy stories since I was a kid — the creature double features and The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. So this book, for me, has the comfort of coming home.

You’re clearly in the camp of horror writers who believe in the slow build to a big finale, as opposed to showing everything you’ve got in the first chapter. Can you explain your strategy?

I believe the supernatural is best used as a catalyst. What’s important is not what the scare is, but why people are scared, what’s going on in their lives and how it impacts them and changes relationships.

This book is as much about second chances as it is about evil things in a blizzard. So, I’m a fan of the slow build in the sense that it gives you time to focus on what the book is really about.

Do you think the book reads better in chilly winter weather?

I would like to think it reads well no matter what time of year it is, no matter what the weather is like. But I will concede that, if it’s snowing out, that does add a certain ambiance.

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