Page Count 288
Publication date January 2020/ Publisher FlameTree Press
A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays.
I began reading my ARC on Christmas Eve, perfect timing for a book that literally begins with ‘Twas the night before Christmas’!
Bastianelli slams us right into the action on a blizzard struck highway, quickly introducing us to the characters stranded in each vehicle and enough back story for each to explain how and why they are there without an unnecessary info dump.
I worried that for the length of the novel it would be difficult to keep a pace in this one setting. Instead the characters each take a turn to describe their worst winter memory, this gave the opportunity to flesh them out as well as provide alternate time periods with various different spooks, scares and all out gore fests. By writing it this way Bastianelli takes the reader on an ever changing journey of horror which later weaves it’s way into the present timeline.
As you know from the synopsis there is a reason behind each characters presence in this particular blizzard, one that reaches a bizarre but fun conclusion.
I thoroughly enjoyed Snowball and highly recommend it for a cold winters read.
I do have a couple drawbacks to mention however; I was disappointed that the few female characters included were all distressed and mostly useless damsels. Additionally the one and only POC was continuously referred to as just ‘the black man’ where others had fuller descriptions. I think if you need to remind us at every turn this man is black, even with fellow characters noting him as ‘the black man’ you are pushing a token narrative rather than a natural inclusion.
Whilst I did love Tucker’s character he felt like a stereotype and could have been more seamlessly written.
Otherwise, if your looking for an original, creative take on festive frights definitely pick this one up. Yet another smashing release from Flame Tree Press!
*Many thanks to Flame Tree Press @ Netgalley for my copy and Anne Cater for hosting me on RandomThingsBlogTour