‘The Chill’ was a very satisfying horror/thriller read. It had a storytelling style that reminded me of early Stephen King, but with a distinctive tone of its own, powered by an original idea worthy of a Michael Chrichton thriller.
It started with a focus on key characters, linked by bonds of geography and family and all in the shadow of the Chill, the Chilewaukee reservoir that looms above the town of Torrance, held back by the dam that drowned the village of Galesburg to feed New York City with water. We move upstream to the Chill and downstream to the massive new water tunnel being carved out beneath Manhattan. We move between the past and the present, displaying the links between generations of a small number of families. We move from the dark menace of the supernatural through to the threat of catastrophic failures caused by the usual human frailties: greed, complacency and a refusal to accept that actions have consequences.
I felt like I was visiting Derry, Maine for the first time, getting to know and care about people with problems who lived in a town with a weird vibe.
There was the town sheriff whose father and grandfather before him had been the law in Torrance; his son, a young man badly damaged by his first failure and vacillating between rebellion and a desire to prove his worth; the woman in charge of policing the dam on behalf of NYC, who spent her childhood here until moving to NYC when she was nine but who always knew she had to come back; her father, a groundhog who has spent his working life carving out Manhattan’s massive new water tunnel and who has avoided Torrance and The Chill since he reclaimed his nine-year-old daughter; and the engineer responsible for inspecting the dam, grandson of the man who built it, who has deep concerns about the dam’s stability.
I was drawn to all of these people so when, twenty per cent into the book, they came together in a way that resulted in a tragic death that would touch all their lives, the emotional impact was high and I thought I knew where the book was going… until Scott Carson threw in an unexpected and deeply creepy twist. I could see then that the story was heading to very dark places and getting there was going to be a white water ride.
I loved the way that Scott Carson kept gradually increasing the tension after that, amping up the spookiness and the sense of physical danger while getting me more and more invested in the main characters.
At the fifty-five per cent mark, I finally knew the intent of the grand scheme that powered the book. It was crazy, illogical. scarily supernatural and disturbingly compelling. I was hooked. I still had no clue where this story would go next except that everything was going to get worse for everyone and not everyone would survive. Which was exactly what I wanted from this kind of creepy, menacing horror story.
From then on, I had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen. I was always immersed in the action and connected to the people and often surprised at how things worked out. Scott Carson sustained the tension right up to the final chapter and delivered an ending that I found very satisfying.
I’ve already downloaded his next book, ‘Where They Wait’.
Scott Carson is the pseudonym used by the crime fiction and thriller writer Michael Koryta to publish the supernatural thrillers The Chill and Where They Wait
Michael Koryta is the author of ten stand-alone novels, the four-book Lincoln Perry series and the three-book Markus Novak series.
2 thoughts on “‘The Chill’ by Scott Carson”
I ordered this book based on your post a while back, wherein you mentioned it was on your TBR list. I just picked it up at The Galaxy Bookshop (my local Indie bookstore), along with five of Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch (Maine Game Warden) series.* I’m right at the halfway point, where the big twist occurs and am thoroughly enjoying this book. You’re right on with all your comments and observations. (Not the the first book you’ve recommended that I’ve read and enjoyed, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either.) It’s a great combination of intriguing, insightful, and downright eerie.
Clearly, we have great taste in this particular genre. 😀
*Can’t remember if you’ve ever mentioned the Mike Bowditch series (if you’ve read any of them), but I read the first one (published in 2010) just about a month ago and, half way through it, decided to order the next five in the series, because #1 was, in my opinion, a topnotch read. Once I’ve finished those I’ll order the rest. The author is going to be having a book signing very close to home here, in May, so I’ll also buy the most recent one and get it signed. One of the most notable things about this series is the sense of place (Maine) and, as I’ve travelled quite a bit around Maine, I find it spot on.
Anyway, thanks for all your great reviews and recommendations.
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It’s good to hear from you. I’m glad you’re enjoying ‘The Chill’. I did try the first Mike Bowditch book, ‘The Poisoner’s Son’. I liked the writing but I couldn’t take to Mike Bowditch. He was too stoic and compliant for me.