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The Snow Garden: A Novel [Hardcover]

Christopher Rice
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 13 2002
Christopher Rice became a publishing sensation overnight with his rst novel, A Density of Souls. The stunningly wide-ranging coverage included appearances on The Rosie ODonnell Show, MTVs Real World, and The Early Show, print features in everything from USA Today to The Advocate, and a website deluged with e-mails from fans. One of the most original writers of a new generation was launched. His new novel, The Snow Garden, is a story of murder and sexual menace on a snowbound university campus. When a respected professors wife drives to her death in an icy river, an illicit relationship between a student and his teacher threatens to come to light, and within days Atherton University is the scene of escalating speculation and intrigue. Another death emerges from the shadows, and the connections between the two accidents begin to look uncomfortably close. As in A Density of Souls, Christopher Rice explores the dynamic within a tightly knit group of young people haunted by sexual memories and fears and driven by obscure desires. The Snow Garden casts this web of friendship and passion against the backdrop of a threat that grows darker as the novel proceeds. The result is a stunning new novel from an arresting talent.

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From Amazon

The Snow Garden is the second novel from Christopher Rice, author of A Density of Souls. Rice's debut marked him out as a writer of irresistible narrative skills--this was a gothic mystery rich in atmospheric detail and some highly individual characterisation. Similar elements appear in The Snow Garden, but in some ways this second book is even more assured than its predecessor, with the emotional lives of its youthful protagonists (freshmen at Atherton University) delineated with real intelligence. Jesse, Randall and Kathryn find themselves connected by more than just their mutual studies.

In an ice-bound river, a professor's wife has drowned, and the unruffled surface of campus life at Atherton University is becoming agitated. Randall has had an affair with the professor, and revelations are pending in the local press. Rumours grow, and people in the town make connections with a similar death many years earlier, and the deception that binds the three friends together threatens to destroy them utterly.

It would be foolish to deny that the plot does not have strong echoes of Donna Tartt's much-acclaimed The Secret History, but Christopher Rice is very much his own man and such allusions are only momentarily distracting. Perhaps the gothic elements (so skilfully handled here) should not be too much of a surprise, as the author's mother is no less than Anne Rice, doyenne of the epic vampire novel. And as this contemporary horror story moves ineluctably to its chilling conclusion, Anne Rice may not be pleased by the fact that her son's book is considerably more impressive than anything she herself has done in some time. And the pulse-racing set-pieces here will no doubt soon be inspiring a bidding war in Hollywood. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Life imitates art imitates late-night cable TV in Rice's second college gothic novel (after A Density of Souls). Set in the histrionic, pansexual pharmacopoeia that is freshman year at fictional Atherton University, it follows the secret dramas of Kathryn, a San Francisco waif on the run from dark sexual secrets back home; her black, militant lesbian roommate, April; her best friend, Randall, a mysterious, gay, Gucci-clad prince; his roommate, Jesse, an enigmatic and apparently irresistible (straight? bi? predatory?) sex god; Tim, gay muckraker for the campus paper; and Dr. Eric Eberman, an art history professor with a theory about Hieronymus Bosch which, the author seems to suggest, has something to do with the plot. Eberman is sleeping with Randall, and the news of his wife's sudden demise makes for a panicky recall of events of nearly 20 years ago. Randall, having just broken up with Tim, is finding it harder and harder to resist Jesse's mysterious magnetism, but in order to find out whether Eric is a murderer, starts sleeping with Tim again to probe Eric's past. Kathryn finds herself drawn to one of Eric's misfit grad students, and April, who seems to exist merely to counterbalance the XY pH of the overall bitches' brew of the book, makes an observation about Kathryn that might well be applied to the author himself: "... you like drama. Epic, who-shot-JR drama." Said tendency muddles what might otherwise have been a decent gay-themed mystery, but readers may not want to relive freshman year for 400 pages in order to learn whodunit. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Feb. 13)Forecast: The son of Anne and Stan has enough of a following to guarantee respectable sales, bolstered by a 15-city author tour, national advertising and a teaser chapter in the paperback of A Density of Souls.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Poor Chris Rice! I know that he's published because of his mother and with this second outing I'm not sure how he got a book deal. This reads like bad college writing workshop drama. The characters are not only unlikeable but they have very little depth and their subplots are too inane...not to mention the laughably bad plotting he chooses.
He has some saving graces though...some of his initial descriptions are quite lush and very gothic (which is what i'm sure he was going for) but all in all this book was such a let down. His first book wasn't that good either but I wanted to see what he would do when he didn't obviously use his life for a plot. Yet again he lives in fantasy land where every "straight" man wants to sleep with other men....as a straight man, I can say that for myself and most of my friends this is far from the truth....but hey who knows right?
like the editorial review says this is very much a bad USA late night movie put to the page....
1 star!
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1.0 out of 5 stars A complete waste of time... June 2 2004
By A Customer
When I think about the time I wasted reading this book, time that could have been spent reading a better piece of fiction, I have to shudder. This book is one of the worst books I have read in a long time. The problems are legion: half-baked,unrealistic, two-dimensional characters; under-developed,weak, unbelievable plot; stupid and unbelievable plot twists; many typos,shallow, spotty dialogue; and themes that few people can relate to. I can go on...In fact, unless you can relate to the following quote from one of the characters, I doubt you'll like this book:
"Beauty does f@*%ed-up things to gay people...it's like this all-powerful drug that erases that feeling of difference...And when gay people see it they have to fight with everything they have to keep from heading straight for it and letting everything else fall away."
In a nutshell, this quote constitutes a big part of the characters' motives. This book was a huge disappointment after the back cover's exciting, intruiging (and inaccurate & misleading, I might add) description. I can't even think of one redeeming characteristic of this novel.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable with rotten characters March 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mr. Rice does not live up to his name with this book. Even the most predictable of his mother's stories could still be gripping and intense. As for this book, I found myself completely disinterested in the highly dislikable characters from about a quarter of the way through. The beginning is fairly interesting, though is ultimately a set-up for what is possibly the lamest motive motive for homicide I've read in several years. Then our lovely duckies fuddle around a college campus for a while, visit several other key, dull areas, sexual overtones intensify, and the story comes to its predictable, threadbare close after far too many pages that seemed merely filler. I am impressed by the fact that so many previous reviewers enjoyed it.
A good thriller, to me, is edgy and provocative enough to leave its reader feeling slightly uncomfortable and pushed to a personal limit, in just the way we as an audience enjoy. This book took many cheap shots to achieve that end, usually with its homosexual themes. Homoeroticism admittedly has a time-honored place in arts and literature (a topic this book superficially explores with its college professor character), but there are several scenes that read more like third-rate porn than literature. I would call these cheap shots, thrilling some readers while making others squirm. But as I wrote before, lots of people seemed to enjoy the book. I wouldn't call it the most boring book I've read, but I would say it makes for a predictable and generally unpleasant read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not for Literature Lovers Feb. 24 2004
By Sabine
This novel seems contrived, cliche, and intentionally geared towards a young audience. The eroticism is cheap and bland. The characters are often too predictable. Mr. Rice seems to tell too much without giving the reader credit, while at other times, important information is not presented. The writing seems stiff and stills needs development and finesse. The author seems to have the interest and desire to push further, as aspects of the story are based upon valid theories regarding Bosch. But, even this leaves me feeling as if the author might be imprisoned within the angst-ridden, curious, knowledge seeking student category he so well illustrates in his writing. Instead of intriquing me with an well-written piece of work, the author had me shaking my head in embarrassement at the memories of the assinine behaviour in college. To top it off with an outrageous and almost unbelievable finale does not provide one with confidence in his writing abilities. The story is all over the board, needs further development for quality writing. Definitely not of literary quality.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric... Jan. 26 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved the gothic tone of the book and most of the characters intrigued me. The description on the back of the book was misleading, however, since the 3 main characters were never actually snowbound, as was claimed! I'm planning to look for more of Rice's books, since this one had me mesmerized most of the time. My complaints:
1. It was hard for me to understand why Randall felt this powerful bond with Kathryn, since she was widely considered to be judgmental and hard on others - In fact, that's precisely why Randall keeps so much about himself from her: He fears her judgment. All in all, I found it hard to sympathize with her.
2. I thought Jesse was the most fascinating character and was disappointed that we didn't get a little more insight into why he acted the way he did. He seemed to have an obsession with seducing people using traumatic experiences from their past - Was this a sadistic impulse, or was he trying to get them to 'use' their trauma in a positive way? I never quite understood, and wanted to.
3. The editing was horrendous! For example, a character says, "And I suppose this scared you for life?" when obviously it was supposed to be "scarred you for life." In dialogue, many times it was very unclear which character was speaking. I know the author didn't want to have to keep saying, 'Kathryn said' and 'Jesse said' but there are other ways to keep it clear who is doing the talking. The writing was sometimes very muddled and confusing, and the sloppiness was pretty consistent throughout the book - to the point of distraction. There must have been a very lazy editor at work.
Despite my few complaints, I did like the book a lot. It almost seems like there could be a sequel...? I'm interested now in reading A Density of Souls.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book I've read
I loved the author's first book so it was a no-brainer that I'd read this, his next novel, but it was terrible. I kept reading, hoping it would get better but it never did. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2009 by Dear Dan
4.0 out of 5 stars Plesantly surprised!
I quite liked this book and found the character writing to be honest and refreshing. I stumbled upon this book in a second hand book store. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2009 by Rhaen
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a mature offering
This book reads like it was written by someone the age of the main characters - a college freshman, a talented freshman, but still a freshman.
Published on Nov. 30 2007 by Donald W Norris
5.0 out of 5 stars You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea
I loved Christopher Rice's first novel "Destiny of Souls," so when I saw this in a Penn Station newspaper stop, I knew I had to read it. Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by K. English
4.0 out of 5 stars if you're not expecting much...
if you're really not expecting much from this book, then it's not all that bad. Wandering through barnes and noble one day i stumbled on this book and became bretty interested to... Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Amanda
5.0 out of 5 stars ReRead So Many Times
There is something mystical and captivating that Rice protreys in this novel. It seems like it's a dream and almost pulls you into the life of the main character, Randell. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Krys Markin
4.0 out of 5 stars A complex thriller
Although the summary on the book's jacket is a little misleading, I found it impossible to put down. The characters and the plot are richly drawn. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Stephbo
4.0 out of 5 stars Geared to the correct audience
"The Snow Garden" along with Rice's first book (...) are all good books as long as you fit the demographic. I would not reccomend this book to any adult or heterosexual. Read more
Published on May 2 2004 by Bill
1.0 out of 5 stars This novel gets a Raspberry from me
Disappointing, disappointing, and what do you know, disappointing! That just about sums up my feelings towards this book after doggedly ploughing through the entire thing. Read more
Published on March 20 2004 by miss k
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