Author: Mary SanGiovanni
Expected Date of Publication: 27th September, 2016
Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
“True Detective” meets H.P. Lovecraft in this chilling novel of murder, mystery, and slow-mounting dread from acclaimed author Mary SanGiovanni . . .
It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won’t be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.
The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…
I adore the premise of a small town facing unimaginable horror – it’s my favorite setting for horror novels, so I was looking forward to this book. However, while it was a briskly entertaining read, it didn’t really click with me on an emotional level and I found myself skimming through at some points.
The writing is perfectly serviceable and the author clearly conveys the characters and scenes taking place. Maybe a little too clearly – for instance, there was so much detail used to describe the monsters that it seemed to be giving notes for a screenplay if this were adapted into a movie. Honestly, I grew a little tired of the constant repetition with regards to their ‘anglerfish-like’ appearance with ‘fleshy lips’. Aside from that minor irritation, the sheer scope of the monsters menacing this town was quite creative and unlike anything else I’ve read – ordinarily there’s only one paranormal being or one breed of paranormal on the loose, but in this case, there’s a whole horde of different creatures unleashed upon the unfortunate town of Colby!
I have to say I feel that the author overdid the inner monologue and philosophical prose from the main characters as I continued further along with this book. The first half is so snappy and fast-paced to the point where I was surprised at how quickly the violence and bloodshed escalated. But then the latter half gets bogged down in lengthy passages reflecting on the morality of the human condition, the true meaning of life and so forth.
I also wasn’t a big fan of the romantic angle that was introduced halfway through the book – it didn’t feel organically developed and contributed to the story dragging as it stopped to address the mutual attraction between the two characters. There was quite a bit of waxing poetic about the beauty of the female profiler, Kathy Ryan, and musings on how best to woo her on the part of her smitten beau, and that prompted me to skim-read because I wanted to get to the parts about defending the town from the demonic threat!
The background with the cult’s involvement was very intriguing and I liked seeing the characters doing research into their belief system and the rituals enacted to both bring about and prevent the apocalypse. It reminded me a bit of the Scooby Gang from Buffy gathering for a research session at the library to deal with the latest villain intent on destroying the world!
Except in this case, these were law enforcement professionals dealing with paranormal phenomena, so it was more fun seeing them trying to deal with the notion that man-eating snow monsters were real – I always enjoy when sober professional adults have to adjust their logical worldview to compensate for weird inexplicable magical shenanigans!
While I wasn’t overly invested in the characters, I did find the plot compelling enough to keep me reading. The stakes and the body-count kept ramping up, and I was keen to find out how it would all be resolved. There were certainly a few shocks and surprises along the way! I wouldn’t recommend this to readers searching for a terrifying horror read (I had no issues reading this late at night when I couldn’t sleep), but I think it’s suitable as the horror equivalent of a light summer read.
Rating: 3 out of 5 creeped-out kitties!
Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC free from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.