Here’s a horror novel I bumped into that doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of press but is far and away better than the run-of-the-mill. I have no connection with it, so it’s just a find.
The book is Snow by Ronald Malfi. Divorced guy trying to fly home to see his little boy for Christmas gets grounded in a snowstorm and tries to travel overland instead with a few others. They all get stuck in a small town in a blizzard and find the place is under attack by… something in the snow.
Malfi is good. His timing is good. His characters are real. Their dilemmas and problems are touching without being routine or sentimental. And, in this book at least — I haven’t read any others — he is something else you almost never see in the horror genre: He’s original. Without getting outlandish, without being grotesque, without being, not to put too fine a point on it, stupid, he invents monsters of his own instead of returning to the usual vampire or zombie trough. About a third of the fun of the book is watching the nightmare unfold and thinking: What is that?
I don’t like gore or cheap scares. But while there’s some necessary bloodshed in this, Malfi doesn’t rely on it. His scares — and he’s got a couple of really good ones — genuinely took me off guard, made me sit up and take notice. Some of his scenes and characters really stuck with me. And again, the whole idea of it struck me as so fresh, it kept me riveted through to the end.
If you’re a horror novel fan, check this guy out. He’s talented, different, smart, sure-footed and entertaining. You can’t say any of that about most writers in this genre.