book review, Crystal Lake, horror

Wind Chill by Patrick Rutigliano

This book comprises the novella, Wind Chill, and eight short horror stories by the same author.

Wind Chill is the story of Emma, a teenager who is traumatized by the loss of her mother and the increasingly bizarre behavior of her father.

Emma’s father is obsessed with keeping his daughter safe, whether she agrees to his extreme measures or not.

My favorite part of this atmospheric novella was the isolation of the cabin where Emma spends most of her time. The thought of trying to escape from such a place was chilling, and I would have loved if the story had focused more on her attempts to get away when she’s hundreds of miles from another human being in hostile territory.

I was disappointed by the resolution to the novella, as I found the preternatural elements much less original and interesting than the threat that obsession and isolation posed to Emma.

The first of the short stories after the novella was The Fear Merchant, about a man who is jealous of his neighbor’s haunted house at Halloween. A simple story, it played out much as I expected from the start.

The second story, Bang!, had a more interesting premise involving monsters (possibly vampires). While I liked the set up, I would have enjoyed seeing some more world building or background for the characters.

Little Red Vest plays with an interesting, nightmarish atmosphere and imagery, which I liked, but was let down by a too predictable sequence of events.

Shadow Play introduces Caleb, an adult haunted by a childhood incident with his brother. There is an interesting antagonist in this story that I would have liked to learn more about, and that combined with a more developed plot arc for Caleb would have led to a more satisfying story.

Jump Cuts introduces an interesting premise but felt underdeveloped and therefore unsatisfying.

The Skin Trade had an interesting idea and set up, and I would have loved the theme and world to have been further developed, but it was another story that ended too abruptly for my liking.

The Deconstructionist presents an interesting version of New York, controlled by an all powerful entity and his best friend. Despite the intriguing set up, nothing happens and the story fizzles out.

Perhaps the most complete and well realized of the short stories, The Last Great Effect is the rather macabre tale of Reggie, a once great practical special effects master, and the send off his friends plan for him at his funeral.

There are lots of great ideas in this collection, but none of them came together as I’d like. Therefore, I award Wind Chill

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