Christa hoped that a vacation on the snowy Rocky Mountains with her boyfriend may put the ghosts of her past to rest. When her boyfriend goes missing in a snowstorm, she is forced to take refuge in a remote cabin along with total strangers, waiting for the raging storm to subside and for an elusive rescue mission. But heads start popping and when she realise that one among her cabin mates is a serial murderer, she has to decide whom to trust before the worst happens.
Dead Of Winter is an upcoming thriller novel by best selling writer Darcey Coates, which I got an opportunity to read, thanks to an advance copy by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. I am reading Coates for the first time. The book is a locked door suspense mystery with cabin in the wood kind of horror elements heavily thrown in.
Story is narrated in the first person perspective of Christa. The narrative style of Coates puts the reader in the midst of the events. While reading through the eyes of Christa, we are aware of only that which she knows about. At the same time we are part of all the paranoia and anguish that she feels. This made me as a reader, more immersed and invested in her perilous journey.
Ever prevalent suspense is the biggest asset of the novel. The writer has ensured that there are no dull moments in the plot by keeping it thriving and eventful. Right from the opening chapter, the book pulls the reader into its maze. The terror and paranoia that inhabits every character and the atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion that prevails in every page are sufficient to hook the reader. As bonus there are enough gore and jump scares thrown in to spice up the story. Constant presence of a merciless nature- never ending snowstorm and ice clad mountains that hinders every effort of the characters, disallowing any respite also serves as an antagonist in the tale.
I have read many suspense thrillers that pull rabbits out of thin air. But the best ones always take care to stud sufficient clues (and of course some misdirections also) in the narrative for the more adventurous reader to pick on their way and attempt to decipher the final reveal. The credibility of a fine suspense writer, according to me, lies in making their reader feel 'why didn't I think of it' instead of 'I didn't see that coming'. Dead of Winter made me regret all the missed clues that I ignored, though to my credit, I was able to crack atleast a crucial one.
In any locked door thrillers, it is crucial to have interesting characters because most of the thrills happens by the suspicious interaction among these characters. My singular objection with the novel is the lack of riveting characters other than the protagonist. All other characters where mostly one-note kind, and serves only the purpose of carrying the plot forward. More meaningful and complex interactions among them would have added layers to the book and whetted the appetite of serious readers who are interested in something more than a racy ride.
Dead Of Winter is ideal for a reader who wants to read a relentless, atmospheric suspense thriller that features some gore. It is an easily readable book, with a complex protagonist who shoulders the plot effortlessly and a dense atmosphere saturated with paranoia. The novel will be published on 11th July 2023.