Book Review: The Chill by Scott Carson

The Chill by Scott Carson

Rating:  ★★★

The Chill is about a small town, Galesburg, that was once drowned underwater to make a new dam. We follow the ancestors of the people from that small town, now living in the “new” town of Torrance.

When I first started reading, there were a lot of jumps in the POV. So much that I wondered who the main characters even were, and if I’d ever get to spend enough time with any of them to care. The answer is yes and no. Focus does slow down to a handful of main characters, but I still think there were too many, and while I cared about a couple of them, I didn’t care about all of them.

In addition to the POV jumps, the book is weighed down by the description about dams and dam construction. It wasn’t as much as say, the church construction in The Pillars of the Earth, and some of it was interesting, but a lot of it went over my head.  Towards the end, I was confused by a lot of the description about where the characters were and what they were doing.  For example, at one point I swear Aaron swims into a tunnel, and a chapter later I swear Gillian is climbing into the same tunnel.  I think maps of the tunnels might have helped.  (I read an ARC, so it’s possible one is included in final copies.)

It was hard to feel excited about the plot when I was never entirely sure what the stakes were. The characters keep mentioning how they are going to get back at New York City, but I was never really clear on precisely how that was going to happen (flood? tainted water supply?). The Chilewaukee reservoir (The Chill) the story centers on, is a reserve basin and not connected to anything else. Specifics are mentioned towards the end, but by then I was mostly over it.

I feel like the true climax, and the story that felt suspenseful, came much earlier than the end.  I was enjoying the book for the most part until then, and after that point everything came to a full stop for me.  Ultimately, pacing and structure were an issue for me.

That being said- I did like the supernatural part of the story and unraveling the mystery. There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief needed for it to work but those were my favorite parts. I just wished they’d been a little more frequent? It was like the author wasn’t sure if he was writing a thriller or a horror or a science fiction story. It wasn’t quite enough of any one of those things to be effective, and the result was muddied.

All in all- not a bad book, I just wished it had been a little more exciting.  The Chill can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher who provided an ARC for review.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Chill by Scott Carson

  1. Interesting. I have a copy of this book too and I was looking forward to it. It almost sounds like a debut? I’m still hoping to read it, but I’ll keep my eye out for the things you mentioned😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • This comment might be a little spoilery (nothing specific but I know everyone’s sensitivity to spoilers is different). You may want to read it after you read the book:

      You might like it more! I think the author had the wrong “stakes” included. And I hate saying that because New York is obviously a much bigger city, but the characters we follow are all tied to the small town of Torrance. I think it would have been more effective if the author had just focused on that. The novel slows down considerably after the threat to Torrance has passed.

      I think I also had a hard time believing one reserve dam in the Catskills was going to have that big an effect on the big Apple.

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  2. When I was taking writing classes, I began to realize that each student had one thing that was always super fuzzy. It may be the entire story lacked dialogue, or the characters were never described, or everything was exterior and we got no interior thoughts. But the biggest element most writers I’ve met skip over is clear setting. If you’re reading along and it occurs to you that you have no idea where the characters are or what that place looks like, the setting needs some love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that was definitely the case here- I couldn’t tell if the water had lowered, or if there were two different tunnels the characters were climbing into or what. I don’t need a strong sense of place- but I do need to not be confused by it lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. After characters, pacing is the other element that determines whether I will like a book or not, and it would seem that this one is weak on both counts, which is a pity because there seems to be some potential to the story, and your mention of supernatural elements makes it even more intriguing, but the overall result does not sound too encouraging…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I sympathize because I saw the middling reviews on this one and was like, Yes but I NEED it. I should have listened to those reviews.

      That being said- every reader is different and the first half is better then the second half. I don’t like to discourage anyone from reading something that genuinely interests them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good review, though I can’t say I’m interested in reading the book. I like to know at least a teeny bit of what to expect when I go into a new book (ESPECIALLY by a new-to-me author) and if you’ve read this but still can’t tell where to classify it? Yeah, not something that makes me think it’s a book for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well- to be fair, there are plenty of books that cross those boundaries. I know I talk about Jurassic Park a lot but it’s the easiest book I can think of- science fictiony (although it’s not actual science) thanks to the gene splicing/sequencing, horror thanks to the people getting eaten, and thrillery because of the suspense.

      BUT- Jurassic Park included all those elements and committed to them. This book included all those elements but just didn’t feel committed to any of them. Like we’ll throw in some paranormal stuff but not make it scary, we’ll throw in some action scenes but not make them suspenseful- it just wallowed too much.

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  5. Pingback: Month in Review: February 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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