Headline, out January 16th
Twelve years after a terrible snowstorm strikes, the people of Coventry have to face new dangers…
It’s very much a Christopher Golden month, with the release of this standalone horror novel – his first in some years – and the conclusion to his Peter Octavian saga. Both show the author at his best, creating characters about whom we care, and then putting them through the wringer to show some surprising facets.
By chance, I read Snowblind in two sittings, to and from a set visit to the BBC series In the Flesh, which covers some of the same themes – as did the recent The Returned TV show. It’s clearly a case of coincidence of similar ideas hitting authors worldwide at the same time, because it would be a mistake to label any of them as derivative or even similar to others – each writer takes his own tack.
Golden’s tale begins by introducing us to various members of the Coventry community – of all ages, backgrounds and races – giving us a clear idea of all of them, before subjecting them to the depredations of the storm. Some of what’s going on within it is natural; some of it most definitely not – and we’re left with a lot of unanswered questions as members of the population succumb.
Jump cut to a dozen years later, and the survivors have tried to move on, with varying degrees of success. All, understandably, have regrets about what was said, or unsaid between them and their lost loved ones, and when a new storm seems to provide a chance to contact them, it seems too good to be true – and of course, it is.
There’s a feel of early Stephen King, and middle-period Dean Koontz (and indeed 1980s John Carpenter) about this tale – which is a compliment before anyone worries – as we see beneath the surface of an apparently tight-knit community at what really drives the people. Golden throws in various plot twists and obstacles, and never forgets to remind us of the presence of the natural force of the storm, let alone whatever it is that’s within it.
There are certain scenes (not just some of the grislier moments) which will stick with you, and induce a chill when remembered – even in a warm room.
Verdict: One of Golden’s best novels – a chiller in every sense of the word. 9/10