Another week, another great release from Flame Tree Press, today’s blog post is one of the latest releases from Flame Tree Press, namely Snowball by Gregory Bastianelli. A book I have been dying to read since I saw the cover and read the blurb many months ago.
Christmas Eve will never be the same for a small band of travellers snowbound on a desolate stretch of highway during a blizzard.
As they gather to wait out the storm in an old couple’s stuck RV, the strangers pass the time by sharing tales of their worst winters, unaware that ghost of winters past still haunt them. Swapping these stories raises questions about whether it is only coincidence that trapped this particular group. Perhaps something in the past connects them…starting by the throwing of a snowball on a schoolground more than twenty years ago.
Ok, first of all, this book made me homesick! maybe some clarification is needed here, I am Norwegian and originate far above and well within the arctic circle, but for the last few winters I have been staying in Scotland (where snow is nothing but a fleeting occurrence).
So, since snow is a big, and I mean BIG feature in Snowball, that just makes me long for my native snow-covered land all the more.
In Snowball we are introduced to a varied gallery of characters, seemingly random people, the only thing they have in common is that they are all trapped together on the same stretch of road during a blizzard at Christmas. In an act of survival, the travellers band together in an RV, which have enough fuel for heat for a few days, but this is the kind of book where the characters do not have a long lifespans, first death occurs rather quickly and the rate the survivors are killed off in increases. For fun you can make a list over all the characters and have a guessing game of when they are killed off in the story.
First part of the book feels like a survivor horror story, man vs snow, then when the survivors take residence in the RV, they pass time with swapping stories of their worst winter and winter experience, some of the stories that are told are quite disturbing, and the survivors discover that they have something in their past that connects them all. Then the book slides into dark weird horror genre, with their worst winter experiences manifesting in the real world, suddenly we have the Krampus roaming around, killer snowmen, dead people coming to life to haunt the living. At first one might think, Krampus, killer snowmen, isn’t that a bit silly? And as one reads on one will find them less funny and decidedly scarier.
I will not go into the story in any more detail, mainly because I feel I would spoil it if I did, all I have to say is; if you like dark weird horror, read this book! If you like survival horror, read this book! If you like good horror, read this book! If you like killer snowmen, read this book!
Ok, I know I go banging on a lot about snow, but the feeling of isolation one get from being trapped in a vehicle in a snowstorm is vividly rendered in these pages in all its freezing glory, the cold almost emanating from the pages themselves. This had quite a chilling (pun intended) effect on me, as I have experienced this a few times in my life. It unsettled me a bit, and kudos to the writer who unsettles me!