Most people who know me know the snow creeps me out. I think it’s sneaky and scary and just not quite right. Ronald Malfi took the snow creep thing to a whole other level in his novel Snow. The novel begins with an intruder who, “Even if it looked like him, it wasn’t George Farmer” (Malfi, 1). We are on instant alert: how can someone look like someone but not be that person? Then we see blood, a rifle and a body. The young lady in the prologue, Shawna, is in a bit of trouble.
The trouble continues with chapter one, when we meet Todd Curry in the airport, snowed in from his flight to visit his son and ex-wife during the holidays. The conflict is escalated when he has to call his ex-wife and tell her his flight was cancelled. When she makes him feel guilty about the circumstances, Todd is even more determined to make it to see his son. He strikes out driving in the storm with three other people who were stranded in the airport. The travelers soon encounter a man walking along the road. Todd is stricken with a sense of unease at the sight of the man, as he thinks, “He moved like something out of a George Romero film” (Malfi, 34). Thoughts of zombies in horror novels are never good.
Stranger than the way he moves is the way the man behaves. Todd knows something isn’t quite right with the stranger, even as he and the others agree to help him find the daughter Eddie insists is lost out in the snow. (Malfi, 41). Todd has another flash of foreshadowing when “…one of the tears [in Eddie’s shirt] parted like a mouth and Todd caught a glimpse of the white flesh beneath” (Malfi, 46). Mouths and flesh aren’t generally good thoughts to have in horror novels, either. Then they find Eddie’s daughter. And she has no face. (Malfi, 52). But she’s walking around in the area where Todd and his entourage are stranded, along with her father. There’s big trouble now. I was impressed with the way Malfi escalated the conflict and fear factor in this novel. By the time we catch the first glimpse of the monsters, we’re already terrified for the five people we know are left alive in the town.
The monsters Malfi brings to life are a fresh twist. They are made of the snow, but cannot materialize into solid form on their own, so they wear the skin of the humans they kill, and manipulate them so that they can further feed. When a body is shed, they disperse into snowflakes and fly away in the wind. The creatures are formidable, but not indestructible. They can be hurt by fire, as Shawna proves when she uses a makeshift blowtorch on one of the attacking monsters (Malfi, 107). But, because they move so quickly, and are so deadly, setting them on fire isn’t easy. Also, Malfi has given his creatures the ability to telepathically kill the electronic signals on all electronics in town, so that the people left alive have no way to communicate to others outside of town. Though the monsters are hard to beat, Malfi ensures they are defeatable, and sending out emails with Todd’s laptop, which was not affected by the blocks put up by the creatures because it was brought into the town after the shield was in place, brings assistance to the survivors. Then the snow monsters retreat and release their hold on the town.
Snow was a refreshing horror read because it didn’t have the characteristics of stories where the world ends and everybody dies, but the creatures did give the characters a pretty hard time. They were believable, and the situations were also ones that might be possible. Most of all, the solution to the problem was realistic.
Malfi, Ronald. Snow. New York: Dorchester Publishing, 2010. Print.