Chills by Mary SanGiovanni: It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won’t be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.
The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable… – Goodreads
Even in Conneticut, a blizzard at the end of May is a bit off. The town of Colby is hit hardest, and all the locals are digging in for winter’s last hurrah with resignation. Then the police find a body. And then another. And another. Detective Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to try to get to the bottom of things. But that was just the tip of the iceburg. Soon it’s obvious that something more is going on. That something is hunting in the snow, and it’s getting stronger.
Chills was a near perfect horror read. Lots of atmosphere, tons of tension, a body count of nearly ridiculous levels all play their part. The author gives the reader a welcome, fast but steady burn of a read that will have them on the edge of their seat. While it’s not flawless (there’s a bit of an issue with a plethora of references to a certain creature), it is nonetheless a book you just can’t put down. It’s one of those books that you start for ‘just a chapter’, and end up closing the cover on a few hours later and wondering how in the world it suddenly got to be that late/early.
I’ll confess to feeling quite happy that I encountered this gem before winter had set in. If it had been snowing whilst I was reading Chills, I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t have been able to pay me enough to get me to go outside. The creatures, both the unique and the Lovecraftian, are satisfyingly horrible. The main female character does a fine job of being enigmatic, vulnerable, and full of sheer grit all at the same time. The men aren’t quite as interesting but not boring by any stretch. The characters are all a bit cliche, but that doesn’t matter much when the author uses them so very, very well.
Overall, Chills is just a great read and one that definitely has revitalized my flagging horror spirit after a run of middlings.
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