A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays.
There are certain situations that are frightening on premise alone. Snowball starts with a wreck during a blizzard that causes a backup on the highway. A backup of cars with occupants being trapped for the night. The idea of this happening in real life causes anxiety from the beginning. Add this to something strange happening in the winds of the blizzard, and the impending doom of nobody coming to rescue them, and I knew that this was going to be one of those novels that is riveting and bone-chilling.
Snowball has a great story and the characters are each introduced in the first few chapters, but as the night gets later and the characters start to get closer, all meeting in a warm RV, you start to feel that most of this large cast of characters is fairly well developed and that you are stuck in the snow with them. In the first half of the book, one of the things that they do to pass the time is tell the memories of their worst winter, and each of them have a story, one that really adds depth to the psyche of the people stuck in this situation, deep in the snows of an impassable highway.
There are moments when you feel the cold winds and deep snow as they are going out to get more people or to try to figure out a way to free themselves. Gregory Bastianelli does a good job of creating the scene, making us feel the claustrophobia of being in the RV with several strangers while you do not know if any help is going to arrive. While they are passing time, telling stories, you start to feel the same sort of dread the characters must be feeling, like are they going to ever get out of this situation.
The first half is a situational horror and the second half is a supernatural horror. I liked the first half better than the second, but I think the novel as a whole is pretty well done. The only character that feels a little two dimensional is Tucker, who is a truck driver and is referred to as big and heavy about thirty times once he becomes central to the story, but other than that, I enjoyed this novel and when next Christmas comes around, I will probably recommend it to all of my horror reading friends.
I received this as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.