Book Review: “Chills” by Mary SanGiovanni

Whenever you hear great things about a book or movie, it tends to set you up for disappointment. Either you raise the bar of your expectations too high or you find yourself comparing what’s presented before you with what you imagined in your mind.

New to SanGiovanni’s work, after reading quite a few rave reviews, I decided to test the waters. All I can say is, “Come on in. The water’s fine.”

chillsChills is a superbly crafted gem of a novel, taking the “small-town up against unspeakable evil” approach and delivering in spades. The horror elements here, from the creatures found in the snow to the Lovecraftian-like cult inviting the winter in, are remarkably unique and truly frightening. It’s nice to read a horror novel that’s actually scary every once in awhile. SanGiovanni excels in delivering the scares, and this honestly reminded me of early Stephen King, in a good way.

But unlike many creature feature stories which focus only on the blood and gore, there’s a lot of depth and heart to this tale. SanGiovanni’s prose is poetic, elevating the novel from a “horror” book to something much more.

“Maybe we’re just here to listen to a babe giggle, or feel a woman’s kiss, or understand in an exchanged look everything words never could express. And so I figure that we aren’t here to conquer the universe, but to experience all the facets of it, one moment at a time — good, bad, indifferent, amazing.”

The ending, to me, felt a little rushed, but overall this was a novel I thoroughly enjoyed, one I looked forward to diving back into. If you’re looking for that wintery scare this time of year, this is one I’d highly recommend. 4.5 / 5 stars.

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