Last year I read over 100 novels / novellas. It was a great year for reading and I discovered dozens of new authors. In starting the new year, I’ve decided to include my reviews on my blog as a way to continue to challenge myself.
Please know, I don’t do spoilers. I won’t recap the entire plot of a novel or give away any of the twists and turns that might ruin the experience for another reader. Instead I focus on how I felt while reading.
This is why we read — to feel.
To have your heart rate shoot through the ceiling because of words on a page is a pretty great experience. To laugh out loud or be brought to tears over the actions of a fictitious being is incredible, when you think about it. To live vicariously through other characters — living out lives, loves, setbacks and challenges, as well as to see ourselves overcoming obstacles, albeit in someone else’s shoes.
This is what reading is about. Leaving a world where the restrictions of laws and rules no longer apply, where we can soar, our imagination the only guidepost we need.
A quick note regarding my reviews. While I have come to know quite a few authors, I’m not one to automatically give a book high marks if I didn’t enjoy it. I realize I can be a tough critic, but these are my opinions, people, and aren’t meant to degrade any authors or the work they put into their projects. It’s simply what I thought and felt while removing my author’s hat and tossing on my reader’s cap.
So, without further ado, here’s my review of Michael McBride’s
SNOWBLIND II: The Killing Grounds
Snowblind was my first introduction to McBride’s work, an intro that was highly overdue. I’ve since come to devour pretty much anything he writes, and when I saw that a sequel to Snowblind was in order, I knew I had to jump in for the ride.
I was intrigued with how McBride would handle a sequel, considering the ending of the first novella (don’t worry, no spoilers here – though I definitely recommend reading that one first). I mean, this could have been Paranormal Activity 18, with the same plot and storyline, just different characters thrown into the lion’s den. Thankfully, McBride throws an immediate curve ball, and the story only ramps up from there.
The setup is simple: Sheriff Dayton (who we’ve had a run-in with before, though briefly, in the first novella) is brought in with the discovery of a video camera out in the Rockies with footage that depicts a young girl in her final moments before death (presumably). In the video she mentions her love for John Avery, her boyfriend who, incidentally, has spent the past 7 years searching for her after her mysterious disappearance with a ski party. He is asked to join them in their search for what really happened.
I love that McBride departed from the setup of the first story while still bringing us back to the hallowed Killing Grounds, though with a different agenda. In the short format of a novella, there wasn’t much time to dive into the background of all of the characters, but I found the characters in the sequel much more approachable, with both external and internal conflict carrying the story along at a lightning pace.
The reveal of what’s really happening isn’t the focus here, like it was in the first, but we’re still confronted with impossible situations and some brave moves (from both the author and his characters). One moment near the end had me literally smiling as Avery makes a decision that you’re both cheering for and dreading at the same time. The nods to the first book were well done and added rather than detracted from the story.
I feel McBride has created a unique franchise here with this concept, one that can be mined for more great tales within the Snowblind-universe. I’d certainly sign up for another go-around.
If you haven’t yet broken into McBride’s work, he’s an author I highly recommend, and there’s no better place to start than with these two novellas. An easy 4 1/2 stars out of 5.