Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

Review: So Cold the River by Michael Koryta
So Cold The River by Michael Koryta
Source:  ARC received from the publisher for review purposes
Rating:  4/5

It started with a documentary. The beautiful Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to unearth the life story of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose childhood is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job, even though the only clues to Bradford's past are his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life.

In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary past - a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once intermingled. Long derelict, the hotel has just been restored to its former grandeur.

But something else has been restored too - a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to settle a decades-old score. And with every move, Eric inches closer to the center of the building storm. (synopsis from

My Thoughts:

Not exactly sure how I would classify this book. The major bookstores seem to be shoehorning this into the horror realm. It doesn't read like the typical horror story to me, although there is evil. And while it is a thrilling story, it's not exactly what you would call a thriller. Not fantasy, as while there's a magical element to it, there are no wizards or werewolves or unicorns to be found. Think I'm going to go with the broad generalization of speculative fiction. While I understand why they chose horror, I think it's a mistake as readers who would love this book may never see it if they don't normally read horror.

This was a really engaging story! The main character is Eric Shaw, a former hotshot filmmaker who is now producing video montages for weddings and funerals. We gradually learn how he wound up so far from Hollywood and estranged from his wife, as he begins work on a documentary for his latest client. Eric runs into roadblocks almost immediately, as it seems that the Campbell Bradford who once ruled over the town is not Alyssa's father-in-law. Could there be two Campbell Bradfords? From the same town? Doesn't seem likely, but things just get stranger from there.

With the help of Kellen Cage, a student working on his doctorate thesis, and Anne McKinney, an older woman who remembers the town as it once was, Eric tries to solve the mystery of Campbell Bradford and his strange antique bottle of Pluto Mineral Water. Why is the bottle so cold, even after sitting in a warm room? Does it really have the power to cause visions? Let's just say that this story gives a whole new twist to the advice: don't drink the water!

Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I really enjoyed it. The writing is excellent, and Koryta masterfully weaves the horror, mystery, and thriller aspects of the story together into an exciting and surprising conclusion! Have to say that while I predicted how the story would end, I was happy to be proved wrong. I thought it was original and clever and definitely worth reading!

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316053635
ISBN-13: 978-0316053631


  1. Thanks for the review of this book. I was interested to read what you had to say on the classifying - when is a horror story not a horror story? Fascinating stuff.

  2. I have this one too - it was recommended to me by the people of Hachette and I am looking forward to this read. Sounds like a stormy night book to me :)

  3. Ooh sounds so good! It's pretty fun when you're puzzled as to what you should classify it as. Possibly horror? Possibly thriller? Sounds cool to me! I love both! Off to add this one to my TBR on Goodreads! Thanks for the great review!

  4. Petty Witter - It didn't read like a typical horror story to me as there were no gory, bloody, or nightmare-inducing passages. But I don't usually read horror, so maybe this would actually qualify? I need a horror fan to clarify this for me!

    Sheila - Looking forward to seeing what you think!

    Steph - I think you'll like it, even if I'm not sure of the genre! :D

  5. I ted to like books that don't classify very well. Thanks for you review, and I'll be adding this one to my wish list.

  6. Great review! It sounds like a good one and something I would like to read. It's a pretty long one too...over 500!

  7. I didn't think this was typical horror either although it did have plenty of evil.

  8. So glad to read a review for this one. You are the first one. I got it at BEA and was pondering when to read it!

  9. Ryan - Think you would like this one!

    Michelle - It was a little long, but still a good read!

    Pam - I agree! Plenty of evil, but it didn't feel like the usual horror.

    Michelle - Will keep an eye out for your review, as I haven't seen any other reviews for this one either. Hope you like it!