Friday, September 27, 2013

A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood

After losing her husband overseas, Cass is in need of a change. The advert for the newly renovated mill turned apartment building in Darnshaw comes at the perfect time. Cass lived in Darnshaw for a while when she was a kid and though the memories of the place aren't all wonderful, it seems this is just what she and her son need. They arrive to find that building has stopped on the mill - but for their apartment, the building is empty of tenants and - if the apartment below Cass's is any indication - it'll be a while before that changes. But the other mothers seem welcoming enough and the substitute at her son's school is very supportive. Then the snow arrives. Darnshaw is soon cut off and Cass begins to realize that the village isn't at all what she'd hoped it would be.

I've been looking forward to this debut from Alison Littlewood for quite some time. When it hit shelves in the UK and reviews started popping up online, I immediately added it to my must have list. I'd actually planned to finally order it overseas when I learned it would be part of Quercus's US list, which of course resulted in a big, dorky happy dance.

Littlewood's strength in A Cold Season is atmosphere. From the get go, the town of Darnshaw and the old mill come across with ominous and creepy undertones. As the snow rolls in and Cass starts to become desperate, Littlewood ratchets up these elements appropriately. It helps to build an increasing tension throughout the story, making the reader even more aware of how Cass's situation is escalating into something horrible.

I'd originally thought that Cass's reactions to her son's behavior were odd. I'm not a parent, obviously. It's another piece of the mounting desperation that Littlewood builds in her characters, though. As she tries to excuse his odd outbursts as a result of losing his father and being uprooted, the reader is all too aware that it's something quite different.

A Cold Season is an excellent debut and I'm already looking forward to more from Littlewood. If I had one issue with this book, however, it would simply be that it went by too quickly.

Rating: 4/5


Erin @ Quixotic Magpie said...

Wow, this sounds really good - and creepy! I will have to read it - I might wait until winter though, when I can be surrounded by snow.

Becky LeJeune said...

Snowy weather would be perfect atmosphere for reading this one, for sure!