Book Review// The Chill by Scott Carson
Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lays beneath the dark, still waters of the Chilewaukee reservoir. Early in the 20th century, the town was destroyed for the greater good: bringing water to the millions living downstate. Or at least that’s what the politicians from Manhattan insisted at the time. The local families, settled there since America’s founding, were forced from their land, but they didn’t move far, and some didn’t move at all…
Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector assigned to oversee the dam, dangerously neglected for decades, witnesses something inexplicable. It turns out that more than the village was left behind in the waters of the Chill when it was abandoned. The townspeople didn’t evacuate without a fight. A dark prophecy remained, too, and the time has come for it to be fulfilled. Those who remember must ask themselves: who will be next? For sacrifices must be made. And as the dark waters begin to inexorably rise, the demand for a fresh sacrifice emerges from the deep…
Published: February 11, 2020
** I received this novel from NetGalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review**
I didn’t really enjoy this novel as a whole, but there were certain elements that I found fascinating and intriguing. Overall this novel difficult to get through at times.
The underlying theme of the past was always there in the novel, in how the characters talked about the dam, and about what happened during the dam construction. The whole book revolves around the past, what happened and what was forgotten in the building of the dam. This resonates greatly with me because I firmly believe that the past helps to shape who we are today. The one line in this novel that stood out to me was, “The past was always present. It lived in antiques and memories, war stories and warnings, but it was never gone.” I really liked how the characters whose family lived in Galesburg never forgot about the dam construction and what it meant to them, how it made them who they are today. The past theme led me to think that the past helps create who we are today, and that it will always be a part of us no matter how we try to get rid of it, or try to forget it like some characters do. The past is a part of who we are today and has shaped our thoughts and opinions.
On the other hand, a reader can feel like this message and theme was being shoved down their throats for a lack of a better term. There was so much emphasis on the past and the information about what happened. At times it became very redundant and seemed too forced.
I did enjoy the characters, and there was character development! I always get so excited about character development, I love seeing how characters change and evolve as the plot moves forward. I found even the water was a character in this novel, how to seemed to seep into everything and how it moved throughout the novel and the places.
An element that Carson executed well was the supernatural. I like how there was forgotten stories about the town that was underwater due to the building of the dam, how the workers were still working on the dam, and the supernatural of the water in the Dead Waters. The way it was written made me want to know more about Galesburg and how the townspeople felt about their village being flooded. The introduction to the ghosts of workers past, how many of them had died while building it, and still stuck around to see it complete gave this book a slight redemption. I’m a sucker for the ghost stories, maybe it’s because I enjoyed Gothic literature and Gothic stories so much when I was in University.
I really wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. It has all the elements that I look for in a good thriller, but it felt too long and drawn out. This book is 448 pages; it could have been reduced to maybe half of that. As I said earlier in this post, I got bored quickly, there was too much attention to little details, and too many characters/background stories that I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t get the thriller “vibe” from this novel; I’m not even sure what “vibe” I got from the novel at all. Steven King was raving about how great this novel is, but I have to disagree with him, which is why I gave it 3 out of 5 cups of tea. Sorry Stephen King, I guess we don’t like the same books.