December 12, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Snowblind" by Michael McBride

212 pages
ISBN-13: 9781937771492

I have never been to the Rockies, let alone in the winter. I do, however, recall seeing a home movie from the 60s of my dad in his twenties, as he and his brothers hunted elk in the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta. It was mesmerizing. So, as McBride's novella kicks off with a closeknit foursome of friends hunting elk in the Rockies, I was immediately on board.

The four men, each successful in their professional lives yet unfulfilled in some intangible aspects, reunite annually to hunt the Rocky Mountains, more out of tradition than anything else. They've grown apart since college, but all make the effort to see each other in the isolated wilderness in that kind of bonding experience they just don't get in their private lives. This trip winds up different to a startling degree as a blizzard rolls in, and with it comes a threat they didn't expect and are not prepared for. When one of them is killed, they initially believe they are up against a grizzly bear, but it becomes quickly evident that the predator is much more intelligent, cunning, malicious--and it's not alone.

The story gets right to the action from the outset, and the perilous situation is palpable, particularly when the foursome-turned-trio hunkers down in a derelict barn after the first attack. They have no clue what's outside, because the blizzard has created whiteout conditions and the howling winds mask any noise, except for the faint scratching at the door that winds up being a taunt from whoever (or whatever) is out there. There isn't a whole lot of time to get to know these men, as the tension doesn't let up, but there are tidbits of backstory interspersed to give a fair idea of what drives them, and what hinders them.

There is a bit of a strain of the credulity of the story, in my opinion regarding the threat they face and its seemingly innate ability to anticipate their every move. This is not a paranormal story, but it got to a point that I wondered if there was some supernatural influence going on. The ending worked great, tying things up with just enough explanation to avoid pulling my hair out, but there was one aspect at the very end that was a bit grating. But overall, Snowblind was a thrill ride, one I'd recommend to any horror fan wanting to curl up with a book by the fire this winter.

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