Every few years snow storms sweep through the Massachusetts’ town of Coventry, pushing down powerlines, making roads impassable, pulling families together. Twelve years ago, though, such a snow storm descended on the town that it cannot be forgotten – that’s if, of course, one survived it. Almost twenty people were lost on that night, some simply vanishing into the drifts, their bodies to be discovered days later, others were more violently taken, the victims of falls or live cables. It’s not surprising that the inhabitants of Coventry, including its police officers, should fear the return of such weather. Unfortunately, though, all these years later the inevitable occurs, a storm prepares to descend but before it hits it is heralded by a warning. This storm will be even worse. There is nowhere to hide. Nowhere to run. They are coming.
In the winter I like little better than to be curled up with a chilly ghost story. I am a complete wuss when it comes to literary scares and so I am easily scared out of my wits. But, when winter comes, it has to be done. Snowblind proved to be everything I wanted – its atmosphere has an icy grip, strengthened by its powerful air of menace and foreboding, and, above all else, it succeeds because our fears are fed by concern for some wonderfully realised characters. The whole of Snowblind – its past and present stories – are about individual personalities that we either care for immensely or we love to hate. Most of them have suffered terrible loss in the previous storm and when it comes back to haunt them all these years later the novel is frightening but it is also extremely moving and tender.
Snowblind follows the experiences of a few families and individuals, especially Jake and his mother who have lost a brother and lover, Miri who has lost a father, Doug his wife, TJ his mother and police officer Keenan the youth he couldn’t save. These are haunted people. We see the affects of the grief – and guilt – on their relationships. It’s altered them and sent their lives off in different directions (one looks at Doug in particular). At only 300 pages or so, Snowblind might not be a substantial book but it is certainly to the point in its depiction of people and mood. Not a page is wasted.
As for the ghosts, the horror, the twists and the chills, I was deliciously frightened. Knowing that the storm is coming and then waiting for it to start and then to blow away is tense stuff and it’s not helped by the very strange happenings that take place around the town to these people. It has double scares. The book opens with the events of the previous storm so we are in no doubt of what will happen this second time. I had no trouble fully accepting the premise of Snowblind – its atmosphere made that an easy, wonderful thing to do. Character driven throughout and well-written, Snowblind is a scary delight and I loved every page. Just make sure when you read it those windows are shut.