Sunday, March 6, 2011

Snow by Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi has a way with words. His command of the language will leave you breathless, dreaming of vivid landscapes, and in terrible fear for your life. The monsters in Malfi's mind become tangible and all too real when he sets them loose on the page. Snow is an incredible modern horror story with a decadent feel, and the perfect marriage of beauty and brutality.

When a brutal snowstorm shut down all the flights in and out of Chicago, Todd Curry and a few other stranded passengers rented a jeep to drive the rest of the way to their destinations. But along a forested, isolated road, they picked up a disoriented man wandering through the snow. His car wouldn't start and his daughter had vanished. Strangest of all were the mysterious slashes cut into the back of the man's coat, straight down to the flesh.

When they arrived in the nearest town it seemed deserted. Cars sat in the street with their doors open. Fires burned unattended. But Todd and the rest of the traveler will soon learn that the town is far from deserted, for they're being watched... and hunted. Soon they will discover the inhuman horrors that await them in the... SNOW.

The above synopsis is from the Leisure/Dorchester edition, which saw a Mass Market Paperback (and more recently - ebook) release. It's far from adequate in describing the phenomenal effort present in this novel. Malfi's words are as magical as the snow itself, and go a long way in invoking terror in the reader.

If you're familiar with Canadian winters, you know very well the chill that runs deep into your bones, the shiver that creeps in and refuses to let go. Well, Snow delivers that feeling in spades. Malfi has crafted what is quite possibly the most brilliantly vivid world, leaving the reader no choice but to freeze along with the characters on the page. You can really almost see your breath at some points in the story. The virtually relentless action and scares are sure to turn any seasoned genre reader into a bubbling pile of awestruck goo, and will definitely bring new readers to their knees.

There's nothing special or new about the characters in Snow, and that's exactly what sets them apart. The dialogue sets out to show that you can have "canned" characters run all over your novel, but the art of mastering dialogue is the most important part. Malfi manages to make the characters become more real by creating dialogue and conversation within the novel that feels, sounds, and reads fluidly - making their plight that much more realistic.

One of Malfi's strengths is taking the reader by the hand and making him believe. The reader doesn't need to suspend disbelief when reading a piece of Malfi's work, as he has already done everything in his power to make everything so... sincere. Hell, you won't even have much of a chance to question anything. This novel is such a great ride, you won't have any time to.

The setting itself is beautiful. How Malfi transforms the idyllic little town into a snow covered Hell is both applaudable and amazing. Every creak and groan is heard through Malfi's expert descriptive ability. The reader can't help but wonder exactly what is hiding around the corner, adding so many layers to the terror experienced. It's right in the middle of the story, right about the time that Malfi has convinced the reader that this little town is about a creepy as it can get, that he swings for the bleachers and introduces some of the greatest monsters this reader has ever seen. This is truly an experience to behold.

Malfi has really done away with a lot of the genre trappings, and carved himself his own little corner of the market. His descriptive abilities alone bring him head and shoulders above the crowd, making him an author to keep your eye on. His writing is reminiscent of the old classics, but has all of the daring and flair of the modern genre. This writer is definitely going to become a favorite for many horror and thriller fans, and in most cases, already has.

Though the mass market format has now pretty much gone the way of the Dodo, Snow is still widely available. The mmpb format is a little more rare of a find, but you can catch a digital edition on Amazon and other retail websites. There is also an audio book version over at Dark Realms Audio, which I'm very interested in checking out and will report on if I get the chance. I can guarantee that this isn't the last you'll hear from me about this particular author. He has quickly become a favorite of mine.

You can check out more about Malfi over at his website. He's on Twitter, and over at The Keenedom (registration required).

PBH.

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