Title: The Winter Box
Author: Time Waggoner
Release date: Originally March 16, 2016, rereleased October 7, 2017
** Winner of the HWA Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
How shameful on my part that I didn’t even have this on my radar until Friday of last week (Feb 5). I connected with Tim some time ago and have read a few of his works (even been fortunate enough to have him blurb one of my books!) but for some reason, this release completely escaped me. It wasn’t until Tim posted a really well done blog about award season and nominations that I discovered it and dove in.
(Look before you message me with ridicule and shame – Tim’s had a wonderful career, with a number of releases that could’ve easily have won the Stoker at that time!)
This was a no-brainer for me to jump into – cold weather fiction? Yes, please!
What I liked: The story follows a married couple, Todd and Heather, trying to come to terms with how their marriage has ended up as it has and where did it take a turn towards two people who tolerate each other, when a blizzard hits.
From here, Waggoner crafts a stunning chilled, supernatural story. One thing I always love about really well done novellas, is when we get 300+ pages of story in 50-75 pages, which is what Tim does here. We get character depth with back story aplenty and from this we really begin to formulate how we feel about each of these two, even as events begin to unfold.
I loved when the two begin to realize that they’ve each been experiencing odd moments and that it’s interconnected. Waggoner really did a fantastic job of letting things dawn on each of them and by that point their reactions felt so true, from how well Tim had breathed life into these two characters.
The ending. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that and even though it was a really dark moment, it definitely had a glimmer like sun does on a fresh snow fall.
What I didn’t like: Irrational now, but at the beginning I wasn’t a big fan of how the characters interacted. It was their anniversary after all, but that soon gets pushed aside when details are revealed.
Why you should buy this: ‘The Winter Box’ shows just why Waggoner is so well respected and has had such a long and storied career. This was a masterclass in dread and tension while using very minimal parts. Every aspect of this story felt bigger and more expanded than was offered, which is a testament to Tim’s ability.
I loved this one and, while it took me far too long to discover it, am thankful that I did.