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A Cold Season Hardcover – September 24, 2013
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Once you open the pages of Littlewood’s debut novel, the hairs on the back of your neck are not safe. This classic supernatural story with gothic undertones opens with Cass and her son, Ben, leaving behind the tragedy of losing a husband and father for a place Cass remembers fondly from childhood. Once they arrive in Darnshaw, Cass soon realizes it is no longer the idyllic town she remembers. The apartment building she rented, which looked cozy and populated from the brochure, is only partially finished, and they appear to be its only inhabitants. Then a winter storm knocks out phones, electricity, and Internet, and Cass’ nightmares begin. Ben’s moods start to become more volatile and explosive. Theodore Remick, the charming headmaster of her son’s school, appears to provide a needed respite, but as winter wears on, she realizes he has an agenda of his own. Littlewood’s story isn’t perfect, and some themes are overdone, but it certainly hits some very high and scary notes. --Alison Downs
"A dark and disturbing tale from a bold new voice in horror writing"―Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing
"[Alison Littlewood's A Cold Season] was a career defining masterpiece that exuded chills and almost.Â .Â . hurt, in a frightening way. Hands down one of the year's greatest novels, it was the perfect debut and the ideal introduction to a welcoming worldwide audience... . [She] may have had the most impact on the genre this year."―Matt Molgaard, Horror Novel Reviews
"What makes this novel such an astounding success, is it's as heart breaking as it is frightening, and it's guaranteed to leave an unrelenting knot in the belly.... gripping piece of fiction that draws the emotions of the genre fan taut, and completely tears at the fibers of those who also happen to be parents. . . When it comes to debut novels, Littlewood offers forth a masterpiece that stakes immediately claim as one of 2013's finest."―Horror Novel Reviews
"This is a very spooky story.Â .Â . Disturbing."―Daily Express
"The novel builds a real sense of foreboding and dread, which creates a chilling reading experience for fans of demonic and religious horror."―Library Journal
"Littlewood's fiction is set in a world where the possible and the improbable rub shoulders, and strange stuff creeps through the gaps in out of the way places. She is the real deal, a writer with a unique vision."―TTA Press
"A thick layer of snow hides the sins of a creepy rural village in Alison Littlewood's chilly debut novel . . .an itchy tension-cranker of parental paranoia."―SFX
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Taking an apartment in Foxdene Mill, Cass begins working on her web design project for her sole client, while Ben settles in. The next day, Ben goes off to school, where he is met by Mr. Remick, a charming teacher who is subbing for one of the regulars. Ben is immediately drawn to Mr. Remick and, in time, Cass is too. But is Mr. Remick the charming man he shows on the surface, or is there more to him? Others are displaying odd behaviors as well, including Ben's friend Damon and is mother Sally. And when Ben begins to act strangely toward Cass, she is immediately concerned. As time goes by and the weather gets worse,Cass soon realizes that the quiet little town of Darnshaw is hiding a deep, dark secret that threatens to consume her and Ben.
I thought this book had some scary parts but, overall, I wasn't too impressed. The character development is only average, and the story is fairly predictable. I found myself having a hard time staying interested in the story. I was hoping for a good scare when I started reading, but for the most part, I was disappointed.
Now imagine that going on for hours, and after a while you're thinking, "Fine, you nincompoop - go through the door. If you can't figure out what's going on despite it being blindingly obvious, I don't really care what happens to you."
That's what reading this book feels like.
There is much to like about A Cold Season. This is quiet horror at its best. The tension is subtle but chilling; Ben’s change from a sweet kid to something eerie is very frightening. In fact, this kid is a poster child for the ‘creepy-kid’ horror genre, and Ms. Littlewood is to be commended for this deft portrayal. There is one passage with the boy and rats in an unfinished unit that is unnerving as hell. The entire book is reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby to some degree.
If I have one complaint, it is with Cass’ character. The woman is clueless at times. The evidence that something awful is happening continuously knocks her over the head and she discounts the evidence with frustrating regularity. The ending too was a little disappointing – part of which was due to the fact that the setup was very well done (and the reader is kept in the dark very effectively) so that the finale is kind of a letdown. Nonetheless, this is a great horror tale from a new talent.
Cass has lost her husband, Pete, in Afghanistan, and she and her son Ben move to her old home village of Darnshaw, an isolated and strange place. Heavy winter weather sets in at once and the village becomes isolated, with even the phones not working. Cass and Ben are the only residents in a converted old mill, a place that harbors secrets. Indeed, the whole village harbors secrets, which Cass slowly learns as her son turns away from her and toward .... I won't spoil it here.
The writing and the pacing are superb. As a writer myself I know how difficult it is to achieve what author Littlewood has done here: the building of haunting atmosphere and genuine chill purely through the medium of words. Cass is a great protagonist and the rest of the characters in the book are compelling, too, with the surprising exception of Cass's son, Ben, who seems a little thin and could have been more substantial.
The plot depends more upon deepening horror than twists and turns. As the reader, we know what's going on and feel helpless to stop it, but that doesn't spoil the suspense or lessen the tension, as the pages take us to a place of ultimate horror and despair.
Then there's the final crisis, and a resolution --- of sorts. I'm not sure if I liked the ending, and I don't know if you will, either. It seems as if the author lost direction in the final couple of chapters. Something more solid would have been quite a bit better (and hence a four star rating instead of five, but you're welcome to disagree).
Still, if you're a horror fan and want something genuinely chilling, read this book. It won't fail to scare.
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This book is weird from page one. There is this oddly-evil undercurrent the main character, Cass senses and you too feel as the reader,...Read more