Christopher Rice second masterpiece following his phenomenal debut gothic novel (A Density of Soul) comes a tale of murder and homoeroticism surrounding Atherton University. One of its respected professors Dr. Eric Eberman is devastated when his wife is discovered under the icy Atherton River. Speculations of suicide or another case of a clumsy accident caused by too much alcohol erupt around the small university. Randall Stone, one of Professor Eberman’s students comes to suspect that Mrs. Eberman’s death was not accidental. More questions arises together with a scandal that Professor Eberman has been sleeping with one of his male students thus makes it easier for others to suspect him about his wife’s suicide or so they say. Randall’s suspicion of what happened subsequently involves him through tremendous acts of violence and trouble.
What I liked about the novel is its capability to picture in me a scene flesh-out from the screen like I’m just watching some sort of gothic drama set in a school campus. Of course the environment and the believable feel of the scene had to do with Rice’s prose and it is not doubtful that he is indeed a talented writer especially with this being just his second novel and written at a young age. My paperback copy of the novel has 532 pages, of course it can be a lot but I don’t recall having to force myself to keep on reading just to finish what I’ve started. I can’t really state that the novel was plotless -since negative reviews concerning the novel comes from this ground- nor I can say it is not meaty enough, for I feel that while the story continues to unravel, we have the sense of who the culprit is, and is of course to be revealed at the last parts. And before the climax, the author unravels each of his character -and just in these parts I think I was a bit disappointed- for some of them are well introduced and learning that there’s nothing more about them makes up for the let down.
All in all, The Snow Garden is an accomplished novel from a talented author. The novel’s homoerotic undertones make it much more appealing and entertaining. Not a direct kind of entertainment but enjoyable as a whole. The novel’s theme has a tendency to aim a particular audience; but Rice still manages to makes it universal. I highly admired the sensibility of his poetic prose and the skill of how he paints his words (like his mother, Anne).
It is not uncommon for someone to attribute’s Christopher Rice success as a writer to his mother’s fame, I am sure he is influenced by her but just of her writing a novel. For in my opinion, Christopher Rice is possessed with such talent that we will not associate to anything if her mother’s not famous.
I am a long time fan of Anne Rice, but you should also try reading the works of his son, Christopher. I recommend this particular novel next to his highly enjoyable debut, A Density of Souls.
Opening Sentence: Groping at the icy tree trunks and pushing branches from his face, he followed the sound of water flowing against ice until it brought him to the edge of Inverness Creek.
Ending Sentence: She held it there until she was no longer stanching an open wound, just protecting a gift from the sudden gusts of wind that drove life skyward to the branches overhead.