Review

Snow Garden

by Christopher Rice



Ben Stiller was recently quoted as having said, "You can't fail
anonymously if you are the child of celebrities."* Lucky for
Christopher Rice --- son of poet Stan Rice and horror maven Anne
Rice --- he's no failure. Rice's second book, THE SNOW GARDEN,
proves that Christopher Rice is in his own right an excellent
author, with more than a passing flare for the mysterious.

THE SNOW GARDEN is the story of unraveling parallel murders
occurring 20 years apart at fictitious Atherton College in the
suburbs of Boston. Behind the ivy-covered walls of the
institution's world exists a cadre of secretive co-eds and
educators who prove the adage "you can't judge a book by its
cover."  

First there's Kathryn, who on the surface appears prudish and
corseted, when, in fact, she harbors a recent past involving
dangerous promiscuity and drug abuse. She is fiercely protective of
her dorm mate Randall. Gay and guarded, Randall hides scarred legs
that hint at a horrible devastation that doesn't match the invented
history he shares with his inner circle of friends. His roommate
Jesse --- perhaps one of the most despicable characters ever
encountered --- has GQ good looks (which cause boys and
girls alike to swoon) coupled with a sadistic, domineering
personality that seeks out the weaknesses of others and then
tortures them with their own frailties. At the center of the murder
mysteries is Eric Eberman, romantically involved with both victims
--- the first when he was an undergraduate, the second during his
tenure in Atherton's Art Department. The author excels not only at
designing complicated, closeted characters but also at drawing them
out slowly, teasingly, in all their complexities. They are as much
a mystery as the twin murders.

THE SNOW GARDEN has maze-momentum. The populace of Rice's novel is
like so many mice dropped into a maze at several entry points ---
they scramble, cross paths, double back, near the exit, make false
turns and cross paths again, while you, the reader, stand above,
watching it all unfold at ever increasing speeds. Often in
literature, revelation equals release; with Rice, the more the
characters learn about each other at every turn in the maze, the
more they become entangled and ensnared. The minor (but pivotal)
characters in particular move in and out of the pages, encountering
Kathryn, Randall, Jesse, and Eric in ways one couldn't have
foreseen. Nothing about THE SNOW GARDEN is predictable. Much is
shocking, happily shocking.   

When Bookreporter.com's reviewer Sofrina Hinton wrote about Rice's
debut novel A DENSITY OF SOULS, she offered, "Christopher Rice's
evolution as a writer will be something to see." Take a look at THE
SNOW GARDEN if you want something to see.

*On "Primetime with Jiminy Glick."

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 23, 2011

Snow Garden
by Christopher Rice

  • Publication Date: February 13, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax Books
  • ISBN-10: 0786868139
  • ISBN-13: 9780786868131