Allie Reynolds (Hachette Australia) 2021, 425pp, RP $32.99

This first novel by Reynolds, a former professional freestyle snowboarder, unsurprisingly features characters who engage in the sport an awful lot, and every time we try to get close to them or worry about their scary situation, they start spouting on about it in endless detail. This therefore means that, like many recent efforts by no less than Stephen King, this could have done with having a good 50 pages cut out by a particularly ruthless editor.

Our slightly unreliable narrator Milla is summoned half-unwillingly to a snowy mountain resort during the off-season, and as it’s the very place which saw the peak of her former snowboarding career and later fall from grace, and it’ll be full of friends she no longer sees, you do have to wonder why she would damn well go. However, she does.

Without realising that they’ve cut themselves off from the town below, and as a storm is naturally raging, Milla uncomfortably mixes with onetime pals and lovers Curtis, Dale, Heather and Brent, all of whom are snowboarding enthusiasts and proceed to chat on about it when they should be pondering what they’re all doing there, who invited them, and if it’s possible that the mysterious, supposedly tragic Saskia is somehow still lurking.

It goes without saying that someone has gathered them together to wreak some kind of revenge, which, at first, involves them all reconnecting and duly turning against each other, and we cut backwards and forwards from ‘Ten Years Ago’ to establish what exactly drove them all apart in the first place and left Milla with a heavy burden of guilt.

This also means that every time one of the timeframes builds up some tension, it’s mainly lost as we suddenly cut away, and everyone starts yakking about snowboarding again, or participating in a past snowboarding championship, or preparing to do some snowboarding, or knocking off some snowboarding practice, or worrying if their snowboarding is up to scratch, or considering if a few drinks or a night of passion might negatively influence their snowboarding the day after, and so on.

Luckily, however, Milla is an amiably haunted protagonist, and Reynolds does know how to eke out some suspense and unease despite all the, you know, snowboarding.

But please, if you’re a fan of snowboarding, or a professional snowboarder, or a snowboarding wannabe, or someone sexually excited by snowboarding, or generally into lots of snowboarding-ish snowboarding, then this is the snowboarding thriller for you, as it offers plenty of snowboarding, with extra snowboarding on the side.

And, afterwards, you might even care to do some snowboarding…

Dave Bradley

This title is available through the Hachette Australia website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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