The Snow Garden
is the second novel from Christopher Rice, author of A Density of Souls
. Rice's debut marked him out as a writer of irresistible narrative skills--this was a gothic mystery rich in atmospheric detail and some highly individual characterisation. Similar elements appear in The Snow Garden
, but in some ways this second book is even more assured than its predecessor, with the emotional lives of its youthful protagonists (freshmen at Atherton University) delineated with real intelligence. Jesse, Randall and Kathryn find themselves connected by more than just their mutual studies.
In an ice-bound river, a professor's wife has drowned, and the unruffled surface of campus life at Atherton University is becoming agitated. Randall has had an affair with the professor, and revelations are pending in the local press. Rumours grow, and people in the town make connections with a similar death many years earlier, and the deception that binds the three friends together threatens to destroy them utterly.
It would be foolish to deny that the plot does not have strong echoes of Donna Tartt's much-acclaimed The Secret History, but Christopher Rice is very much his own man and such allusions are only momentarily distracting. Perhaps the gothic elements (so skilfully handled here) should not be too much of a surprise, as the author's mother is no less than Anne Rice, doyenne of the epic vampire novel. And as this contemporary horror story moves ineluctably to its chilling conclusion, Anne Rice may not be pleased by the fact that her son's book is considerably more impressive than anything she herself has done in some time. And the pulse-racing set-pieces here will no doubt soon be inspiring a bidding war in Hollywood. --Barry Forshaw
About the Author
Christopher Rice is the son of Anne Rice, the novelist, and Stan Rice, the poet. He lives in Los Angeles. His first novel, A DENSITY OF SOULS, is available from Pan Books.