It turns out that snow is "actually very complicated," and so is Galloway's quirky, engrossing debut. In a small town near a river not far from a city, the narrator, an unnamed high school sophomore, encounters new Goth arrival, Anna Cayne. Holden Caulfield meets the Blair Witch, perhaps-but our narrator is more sympathetic and Anna more fascinating than their counterparts. The narrator is unsure why anyone would pursue him ("I'm bland. I'm milk. Worse, I'm water"), but pursue him Anna does, charming him with intriguing postcards, reading recommendations and long walks by the river. He's soon completely, hopelessly in love. But halfway through the story Anna disappears, leaving the narrator and the reader feeling lost and betrayed. The book becomes a search for Anna, complete with ciphers, codes, sightings and buried maps. Does affable art teacher Mr. Devon have something to do with her disappearance? Who was really driving the night fellow student Bryce Druitt slammed his car into the side of the bridge? Galloway makes plain from the beginning that everything in the book might be a clue, and that it's up to the narrator and the reader to solve the mystery for themselves. This can be great fun or lead to great frustration, depending on one's tastes, but there's no doubt that this rich, complex puzzle is the work of a talented author. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Snow, of course, is not really simple, and this clever first novel enmeshes its characters in situations that are more complex than they first appear to be. As related by an unnamed teenage boy, the suspenseful, open-ended plot concerns strange occurrences during an eventful winter in a seemingly quiet community. The possibly unreliable narrator is struggling through a lonely and rather bland adolescence until a new girl in his school's Goth crowd becomes interested in him romantically. Anna is anything but bland: she adores wordplay, odd facts, obscure jokes, ciphers, codes, the paranormal, and practical magic (especially the escape illusions of Harry Houdini), and her hobby is drafting obituaries for everyone in town. When she suddenly goes missing and is presumed dead, her heartsick boyfriend ponders her fate. An accident, surely-or was it? Suicide? Murder? Could Anna have run away? Why was her dress laid out so neatly near a hole in the ice? What about the bruises she tried to hide? Are her parents really grieving? Could a favorite teacher be involved? Though some readers may be frustrated when most questions remain unanswered, others will find their inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy stimulated by the abundant ambiguities, coincidences, and clues scattered throughout. An intriguing debut.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Engagingly written debut about a mysterious teenage girl's disappearance, and more's the pity: if Galloway were less sure and fluent, readers would be less likely to jump through his hoops before realizing he didn't know why they were doing it, either. Anastasia (Anna) Cayne transfers to Hamilton High and hangs out with the Goths, but the story's unnamed narrator-boyfriend (an angsty teenager down on hypocrisy, we'll call him Holden for convenience) discovers that the only resemblance between the Goths and Anna is the black mascara they both wear. Anna is accessorized with-if not completely composed of-a full set of cool outsider cultural tics. She spends her time writing fanciful obituaries for everyone in town; she introduces boyfriend Holden to Houdini, Poe, Rimbaud, Lovecraft, and Ambrose Bierce; plays him indie-rock music and shortwave broadcasts of mysterious counting voices; sends him messages in code, mysterious phrases, puzzles, and maps. Much remains unexplained about her even as she makes The Spooky and Unexplained part of Holden's life. Where did her bruises come from? Why doesn't her father have eyebrows? What was Anna's involvement in the car crash of loutish alpha Goth, Bryce? Why doesn't she like Mr. Devon, Holden's favorite teacher? When Anna disappears, her dress neatly laid out beside a hole in an ice-covered river, even more questions arise. Why was there a condom wrapper under Anna's couch, when Holden knew he'd disposed of his? Is Anna dead? Is she sending him messages, or is that just wishful thinking? Are the messages from the other side, or just from another town? Where did Holden's drug-dealing best friend go for two weeks? Why did Mr. Devon lie about where he'smoving? Did the TV psychic really contact Anna? Who knows? And who cares? Like the puzzles and codes Anna sends, the questions either go unresolved, or if answered, lead nowhere. A pointless exercise that might work for the "I challenge you with my shocking style" YA crowd.
"This strange tale manages to creep under your skin, and to stay there for some time."--People
"The writing is compelling; the pace as swift as that water churning under the ice."--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A story about young love, suffused with mystery and magic . . . an absorbing read."--The Des Moines Register
"This rich, complex puzzle is the work of a talented author."--Publishers Weekly
"An intriguing debut."--School Library Journal
"Oddly mesmerizing . . . it's teasing foreshadowings and forbodings make it hard to forget."--Booklist
"Galloway does an excellent job of building suspense."--Library Journal
"One of the best books I've read in a long, long time."-Kaye Gibbons