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by Glen Hirshberg
Carroll and Graf, October 2003
336 pages
ISBN: 0786712538

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In a Detroit suburb in 1977 someone is killing children. He kidnaps the children and suffocates them by holding their nose and mouth shut, however, the children appear to have not been in pain during their deaths. He places their bodies in the snow, consequently being named the Snowman.

THE SNOWMAN'S CHILDREN is written through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy named Mattie Rhodes, who becomes too closely involved with these deaths. Even as an adult, in 1994 his life is difficult due to these unresolved memories that continue to haunt him.  He needs closure to this tragedy so he returns to his home town to investigate his past. Unfortunately his visit brings back the unwelcomed, buried fears and thoughts for his old friends and family, as well as himself.   

As children, Mattie Rhodes, Theresa Daughrety, and Spencer Franklin are the pivotal characters throughout this novel. The affects of the deaths are too close to these three classmates and each one is forever changed in this all too realistic novel. Mattie attempts to help one of his close friends, Theresa, in dealing with the fear and unfortunately makes such a complete mess of the situation that his family is forced to move away from the area to their family in Kentucky. While this temporarily solves the terror for his family, it also does not allow resolution and closure for Mattie so that he can move forward with his life.

This is a psychological thriller that shows the damage to Mattie, his former friends, family and neighbors goes beyond the physical wounds; the emotional wounds are more altering and more difficult to heal, if they can ever be healed. The relationships are especially noticed in Mattie's family with Brent, Mattie's younger brother, who has no understanding and no empathy for his brother. These brothers simply coexist while not relating to each other. Glen Hirshberg has masterfully developed an individual and realistic personality for all of the characters. Every one of them is believable and easily visualized.

The beginning is a little slow as the author shuffles between 1994, 1985, and 1976. There seems to be no connecting thread, except for the character of Mattie. Once the reader starts seeing that all three of these dates seem to merge in Mattie's mind, the pace of the novel accelerates tremendously. The inner relationships between Mattie's family, friends, and neighbors are the driving forces in THE SNOWMAN'S CHILDREN. I would not recommend this book to anyone who has children between the ages of eight and 12 since it could easily be too realistic for these parents. For everyone else though, THE SNOWMAN'S CHILDREN is a wonderful novel to read to add to the chill of winter.

THE SNOWMAN'S CHILDREN is Glen Hirshberg's first novel and his second, THE TWO SAMS, was published last year. His experience of living in Detroit as a child definitely was crucial to this novel. He has been nominated for multiple awards from the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards. 

Reviewed by Teri Davis, December 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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