Worth a Look: The Snow and the Darkness by Matthew Warren Wilson

“Jason and Valerie wanted a nice, leisurely vacation, visiting Jason’s brother in Virginia, but Mother Nature intervened, delivering a hellacious snowstorm to the region. With their transportation plans thwarted, the travelers find themselves on a deserted road in the middle of the night, a blizzard raging all around them, and a suspicious stranger has joined their midst. To Jason, the newcomer seems a little off. He might just be a run-of-the-mill drunk, but Jason senses something else—a streak of sadism seems to emanate from him. Little does Jason know, the stranger is the least of their worries. There’s something else out here in the woods, a creature that purrs as it feasts on human flesh, an abomination lurking in the snow, hidden in the darkness. But even if Jason and Valerie manage to survive, there’s one more surprise waiting for them, with a revelation that will test their very humanity”

This seemed like a logical choice to read while snowed-in after the first storm of the winter.  I really liked the build up of this book.  None of the characters are particularly likeable, but the atmosphere more than makes up for what the characters lack.  Wilson manages to get to the tension building segment of the story almost from the get go.  I like the setting descriptions (he does a superb job of describing the blizzard and treacherous conditions).  I like the introduction of the “odd” stranger.  I really liked the first encounter with trouble (no one knows what is happening, they only know something is seriously wrong).  Then comes the reveal…and one of the biggest letdowns I’ve had reading a suspense thriller.  Once the antagonist is revealed, everything slides downhill quickly.  The novella never regains its footing.  One of the most promising suspense settings I’ve read in quite some time becomes a pedestrian, gory, almost laughable story.  Even the end comes across as schmaltzy instead of delivering the emotion the author intended.  The ending could have worked, if the middle had delivered on the promise of the beginning.

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