Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Atmospheric writing, great plot and characters.
Cons: Darker than my usual reading choices, but worth it.
The Bottom Line:
Book that draws you in
Characters, story are great
Prepare for winter




Pile on the Blankets for This Debut

Every so often, I hear about a book that is getting so much praise, I have to read it.  That was the case with Cover of Snow, the debut from Jenny Milchman.  This is definitely not my normal light cozy mystery, but the praise is well deserved.

When Nora awoke that morning, she noticed that her husband wasn't in bed with her.  A quick check of their house, however, brings her a horror she never expected - Brendan has committed suicide.  As the new, young widow attempts to make sense of it, she looks into his life to try to determine why he would do such a thing, and she begins to learn things about his past she never would have expected.  Will her digging help her make sense of it all?  What else might her digging uncover?

As I already said, this is not my normal cozy.  The secrets of the past are dark, and the effect all this has on Nora is realistically hard.  I found that mood seeping into me as I was reading - one reason I normally stick to lighter books.  Was it worth reading?  Absolutely.  Just be in the proper frame of mind when you pick it up.

Of course, the book wouldn't have affected me this way if I didn't feel for the characters.  Nora was a very real protagonist - her reactions to this huge tragedy and what she uncovered along the way were both perfect.  This is in many ways her book, but the rest of the cast is real too considering how little page time most of them get.

The plot was excellent.  Clues are slipped in early, but we can't figure out what they mean until Nora does.  By the second half, I was busy turning pages to find out what would happen and how Nora would be safe.

And the writing?  Perfect.  The opening chapters of the book feel slightly disjointed, but that's on purpose.  We're seeing the days after Brendan's suicide from Nora's point of view, and she's not coping with the world at that time.  Once we get past that, we are so pulled into Nora's world we can feel the endless snow she has to deal with during a harsh winter.  In fact, it was so cold I had to turn off the AC during a warm Southern California day I was shivering so much.  (Okay, I get cold easily, but still, I know the book wasn't helping me at all.)

Really, if I read this book without knowing anything about the person behind it, I would assume Jenny had many published books to her credit.  It's that good.

Yes, the tone is darker than I normally read, but Cover of Snow was so rich it was worth it.  Now I need to shake off the winter blues and enjoy some Southern California sun.

10 comments:

  1. It is, indeed, a very entertaining, if sometimes harrowing, read. As you point out, Jenny's prose style is that of a writer of long experience rather than of a newcomer, which attests to her craftsmanship--and artistry.

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    1. I expect she will have a long career if this is any indication of her writing.

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    2. Barry, always good to see you, and thanks for your kind words and support!

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  2. This does sound like an interesting book. I may have to look for it at some point.

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    1. I bet you would like it based on what you like to read.

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    2. Marie, nice to meet you here, and thanks for being interested!

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  3. Mark, I have to thank you for this wonderful review. You saw things I hoped to put in there--and even some I didn't, which attests to your powers. I appreciate your picking up something that isn't your usual, and you raise a point I think would make for great discussion. In what ways can a harrowing read feel worth it? If the character has more strength and knowledge at the end...were the events of the story in some way necessary? I would love to get to talk further at some point...and in the meantime, thank you again.

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    1. You are very welcome. It doesn't look like we'll get to connect when you are in So Cal this go around. Hopefully some other time.

      As to when a harrowing read feels worth it - I definitely agree the main character has to feel like they grew. In some way evil has to be defeated. If you don't have those, then what was the point for them and especially for us.

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  4. I have seen good things about this book already, but this review has cinched it - buying now.

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    1. That is the best compliment ever! Thanks so much.

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