By R. L. Stine.
Heather regularly fantasises about murdering her Uncle James, and you really can’t blame her. Ever since she was orphaned aged three, he has been a horrible guardian: mean and abusive; he steals from her trust fund and forces her to work in a greasy diner, leaving her no time to study, socialise or make out with her boyfriend, Ben. Waitressing one night, she meets a handsome boy with white hair who calls himself ‘Snowman’. New in town, he wastes no time in asking Heather out, and she eagerly accepts. Ben is kicked to the kerb as Heather escapes her dismal home life in a series of romantic dates with Snowman. Even her uncle’s persistent unpleasantness towards, and about, her new boyfriend does nothing to tarnish the gleam of their burgeoning love. But Snowman is not all that he seems to be, and when he reveals his true nature, Heather is not only in for a shock, she also finds herself in a desperate, and increasingly dangerous situation.
Heather’s interactions with her uncle are genuinely unpleasant. The implied threat and fear, bubbling under the surface, create a tension which I imagine quite accurately conveys the experience of living under the same roof as a bully such as James, and it makes for a gruelling read. For much of The Snowman, the romance between Heather and the titular character feels like a reprieve from the horror she endures at home. When the twist comes, and the romance evaporates, it is doubly upsetting, as our heroine is left to confront, alone, the terrible truth that is revealed. We are left, less with a horror story, but with a gripping thriller which culminates in an exciting final confrontation. The Snowman addresses some complicated issues with a light touch, without detracting from the seriousness of Heather’s situation. At the same time, it is a consistently interesting story which kept me engaged until the last page.
The Snowman teems with tension and terrifying possibilities, with the horror delivered mainly via the disturbing interactions between Heather and the abusive men in her life. Whilst The Snowman probably fits more comfortably into the ‘thriller’ genre, its brutally realistic approach to its subject matter and the unshakeable sense of unease this creates, make this entry far scarier than standard Point Horror fare, earning it a solid fear factor rating of…