" No one escapes the stillness. Clare remembers the cold. She remembers abandoned cars and children's toys littered across the road. She remembers dark shapes in the snow and a terror she can't explain. And then... nothing. When she wakes, aching and afraid in a stranger's Gothic home, he tells her she was in an accident. He claims he saved her. Clare wants to leave, but a vicious snowstorm has blanketed the world in white, trapping them together, and there's nothing she can do but wait. At least the stranger seems kind... but Clare doesn't know if she can trust him. He promised they were alone here, but she sees and hears things that convince her something else is creeping about the surrounding woods, watching. Waiting. Between the claustrophobic storm and the inescapable sense of being hunted, Clare is on edge... and increasingly certain of one thing. Her car crash wasn't an accident. Something is waiting for her to step outside the fragile safety of the house... something monstrous, something unfeeling. Something desperately hungry. "
Winter is beginning to really show up for 2021 by blanketing the States in snow, which made this novel seem fitting to read this month, along with the isolated climate of quarantine which the two main characters go through in Darcy Coates' Voices in the Snow. This story is the first book in a four book series that is full of horror and mystery, and I couldn't seem to put it down - - - after the first 100 pages, the story steers off in a direction I didn't see coming.
Voices in the Snow is set in today's world, but at the beginning of a dystopian future in the UK, which mostly takes place at a large, desolate manor that sits just outside a forest called Banksy Forest. From the second chapter until the end, readers make their home here with the two main characters Clare and Dorran, but very shortly into the story, we realize that they aren't the only 'people' in the house.
The main question of the novel is whether or not Dorran can be trusted - - - Clare wakes up in his family's manor after a car accident, and she can't exactly remember how the accident happened, but she also can't remember why she was driving out in a blizzard in the first place, but she does recall that she was on the phone with her sister, Beth, and we learn that her sister worries about Clare like she's her mother. Clare becomes focused on trying to somehow contact Beth to let her know she's still alive.
We find out later that Dorran comes from a prestigious family that makes their money from being in the wood distribution business. His family, the Morthornes, aren't a typical family. Not only does Dorran's relatives live at the manor during the warmer months, but so do the servants, all 60 of them. Dorran makes it obvious that he doesn't enjoy this type of lifestyle:
" ' All right. I guess not. Especially in this house. How large is it [the house] ?'
'Inconveniently large.' He shrugged. 'It does not only house our family, but the servants as well.'
Clare's eyebrows rose. 'Servants?'
'Staff,' he corrected quickly. Clare thought she saw a flicker of embarrassment, but it was hidden almost immediately. 'My apologies. That is another part of tradition that is well outdated. My mother wishes for the staff to be referred to as servants.' "
Soon the two are discussing whether or not they could survive for months at the manor due to the blizzard not seeming to let up, with this discussion, readers find out there is an inside garden located in the depths of the manor, unfortunately, food wasn't planted since the family and servants leave the home for the winter, but there are plenty of seeds to start cultivating. One day while Clare is trying to get the seeds planted, she decides to go get Dorran, who left to go check on the many furnaces that heat the manor, but Clare easily gets lost in the house she has barely walked around in, and ends up in a wine cellar: here, Clare hears scraping noises that lead her to a creature huddled in the dark.
" The figure turned toward her. Eyes glinted - - - horrible, inhuman eyes peering out from behind long, greasy hair. Then the figure darted away, escaping from her circle of light, disappearing into a narrow doorway in the stone wall.
A sharp, broken scream cut through the cold air. Clare didn't realize it had come from her until she felt the ache in her throat. She stumbled backward, and her shoulders hit one of the shelves. Muffled clinking noises surrounded her as the bottles rocked.
She couldn't stop shaking. The thudding footsteps echoed around her, beating fast, like her own heart. The scraping noise joined it, louder this time. It surrounded her and overwhelmed her. "
Although Clare tells Dorran what she saw, he doesn't believe her. He believes that the stress from the car accident has caused her to hallucinate. Clare slowly begins to tell herself that he's probably right, but then the human-like creatures begin to show up more and more, always disappearing right before Dorran can see them. Shortly after an incident with another one of the creatures, Clare runs into Banksy Forest, set on getting the radio she remembered having in her car, to contact her sister Beth.
There are so many twists and turns in this story that it makes it wonderfully unpredictable. If I said anymore about it, it would give away too many of the surprises waiting inside. Voices in the Snow may not have been the best title for this book, but it is a really well-written horror story. The only annoyance I had with the novel is the awkwardness between the two main characters, which didn't seem natural. Most of what happens between Clare and Dorran are seen a mile away before it happens. During some scenes, I found myself rolling my eyes at the dialogue between Clare and Dorran, but the horror in the story makes up for the predictability of the characters.
I highly recommend this book to horror lovers; the scenes of scares and creatures were well-detailed. I was not disappointed at all. There were only a few inconsistencies throughout, but I think they would be easily over looked for the story is really enjoyable. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.