Christa is stuck in a nightmare that doesn’t end. She and her boyfriend were on their way to a vacation lodge in the mountains when everything goes wrong. Christa wakes up in a cabin full of her tour companions who say that Kiernan never made it back through the snowstorm.
Her plans to find him are foiled when one by one, the people in the cabin wind up brutally murdered, and Christa is now forced to watch her back every step she takes in the dark, unforgiving landscape.
Read if you like: thriller novels set in the middle of nowhere, a wintery-snowy setting, the isolation and stuck together tropes, serial killer books that are gory, a protagonist with a secret, mystery novels where everyone seems suspicious
Darcy Coates’ words have a way of creeping into your mind and channelling your imagination.
From the first page itself, her descriptions are so vivid that you can clearly visualise the scene. I loved reading about the setting regardless of how extreme the weather conditions were.
Once the murders begin, the writing becomes jarringly gory. If you are easily put off by such details, I wouldn’t recommend this book to you.
Even though I didn’t connect with Christa’s character, I could feel her angst, fear, and frustration. I chalked it up to the narrative being so well-framed that you can’t escape its impact.
One aspect of this book that worked superbly to heighten my apprehension is how the author uses human intuition in the storytelling.
Christa often has these powerful gut instincts that guide her. And the moment you read her thoughts, you know that something horrible is going to happen. Somehow this technique of foreshadowing was more thrilling than, say, if there had been paranormal elements in the plot.
There are so many plot points that work in tandem to tap into your survival mindset and elicit a reaction, such as:
- everyone is trapped in an uncomfortably small cabin
- the outdoors being unsafe
- but then the indoors aren’t safe either because there’s a serial killer among them
- they’re completely isolated from civilization, and there’s no help coming
The book is written from a third-person omniscient point of view. And you’re essentially following 10 characters as they struggle to deal with the circumstances.
This might seem a bit too much for some of you, but I felt that the author eased into the story without making the presence of all these characters too overwhelming.
Plus, there are certain aspects of their characterisation that distinguished all of them.
To make the narrative more layered, the author keeps hinting at some incident in Christa’s past that weighs on her conscience.
Unlike the wonderful ambience of the book itself, the build-up about her mysterious past wasn’t as atmospheric as I would’ve liked. Probably because of how much is revealed to us through short glimpses; the sense of mystery is lost.
One other thing that prevented this book from being a 5-star read for me is that I guessed who the killer is WAY TOO EARLY. That part of the puzzle stood out like a sore thumb throughout the novel.
All in all, Dead of Winter was certainly an engaging read. Moreover, I really like Darcy Coates’ writing style, so I have discovered a new author whose works I plan to binge-read.
Note – I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.