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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snow by Vella Munn

Snow by Vella Munn
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full length (234 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A winter trip into the forest for four becomes a fight for survival.

Four people gather to close their remote mountain cabins. For the brother and sister, these days offer them an opportunity to come to terms with their nightmarish upbringing. The professional athlete must face the end to his career and try to find a purpose for the future. He brings with him a woman who shields her wounded heart beneath her perfect body.

Then the ferocious storm hits, trapping them far from civilization. Whiteout is a battle for survival. It also lays bare the complexity of human vulnerability, strength, and weakness.

As they fight for life, they're watched by the restless, lonely spirit that knows what it means to battle and lose. Four humans reach Wolf Lake.

Not all will live to leave it.

Caution! Read under a blanket sipping a warm drink in order to ward off the chill of Snow.

From the moment I started reading, an ominous feeling saturated the pages. Before the storm hits, Ms. Munn introduces Dayna, Park, Beacon, and Kandi. Each character is damaged and coping with the hurt in some way. Dayna and Park are still struggling to throw off the crushing influence of their domineering father. Beacon is an athlete whose body is failing him, but he hides an even greater injury to his soul. Kandi is beautiful on the outside, but the ugliness of her childhood has left her emotionally and mentally scarred. The persona each character presents to the world gradually begins to crack as they are put to the test and forced to face the ghosts of their pasts. It was both touching and painful to watch the layers of each character peel back. By the time the storm was at its peak, I had already come to care for this hodgepodge of a team and wondered who would make it out alive.

One of the most interesting things about Snow is that there are no villains. Nature is powerful, beautiful, and lethal all at the same time, but never evil. Each character makes choices that put them in danger. Even when they are staring death in the face, none of them blame nature. They scream and cry as they struggle, but they shoulder the responsibility for their actions. There are moments when Dayna and Kandi can’t help but admire the beauty of the snow even though it might very well freeze them to death.

Unlike many fast paced suspense stories I’ve read in the past, the pacing of Snow is steady, methodical, and relentless. I wasn’t racing through the pages, but I also couldn’t stop reading once I started. I simply had to know which characters were going to survive. I felt as if I was plodding through the snow next to them as they pushed their bodies beyond the point of exhaustion. I could feel the cold and fatigue creeping into their bones, and I was pulled into the atmosphere of the story so much that I needed to snuggle under a blanket as I read.

As much as I would have liked all the characters to survive to the end, I knew from reading the blurb that wouldn’t be the case. Even though I went into the story knowing there would be at least one casualty, it didn’t make the loss any less heartbreaking. I must warn readers that the injuries suffered by one character in particular are hard to take and certainly not to be read by anyone who is squeamish.

Snow is more than a story about a storm. It is a complex and intense tale of four people facing the biggest challenge of their lives and discovering what they are truly made of. The journey to the end of the story is a long and hard one, but I found the ending satisfying and I felt that many of the changes the characters go through are definitely for the better. Readers looking for a different kind of suspense should check Snow out.