A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood

Cass is trying to rebuild her life after the loss of her soldier husband, and a renovated mill in the picture-perfect village of Darnshaw looks to be the idyllic spot to bring up her traumatised son, Ben.
But the locals aren’t as friendly as Cass had hoped, and Ben is beginning to display a hostility she can’t understand. Then the blizzards blow in, and Darnshaw is marooned in a sea of snow.
Now, threatened on all sides, Cass finds herself pitted against forces she can barley comprehend.

This book certainly gripped me and I found it hard to put down. It begins with the main character, Cass, an army widow driving to a new village with her young son Ben to start a new life. They are driving across a moor in thick oppressive fog, establishing the feeling of isolation that remains for the rest of the novel.

Their new home is an old mill which has been converted into apartments. However, the building work hasn’t finished and they are the only people living there. Then, snowfall begins and leaving Darnshaw becomes impossible as all the roads are completely impassable.

As Cass gets to know some of the townspeople and Ben starts at the local school, she starts to realise things aren’t quite right. There are very few friendly people around and her son begins to change. His behaviour becomes increasingly strange and threatening and she begins to lose people she can turn to. With no phone line, internet or access out of the town you begin to feel a reel sense of claustrophobia and entrapment.

The chilling suspense and mystery created for the first three-quarters of the story was very good, but I found the ending a disappointment. Like many horror films, it suddenly turned far-fetched and unrealistic which I thought ruined the atmosphere that had been created. That said, I would probably still recommend it, just don’t expect too much from the ending.

3/5

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