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Cruel Winter by Anthony Izzo
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Cruel Winter

by Anthony Izzo

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293378,207 (2.67)2
1990-2009 (1) 85-89 (1) American literature (1) boys (1) children (1) fiction (2) G-2 (1) horror (12) mansions (1) mothers (1) murder (1) mystery (1) novel (1) paperbackswap (1) parents (1) Pinnacle (1) school (1) snow (1) teen (1) to-read (1) tunnels (1) zombies (1)

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Brampton in the early 1980's is a picturesque little town where nothing extraordinary ever happens. When the new kid in town asks Jack Harding and his friends for help, they can hardly refuse the boy. After all, Ronnie Winter is a pleasantly plump kid, quiet, and well...weird. To Jack's way of thinking, Ronnie's strangeness just makes him the prime target for bullying.

Jack and his friends actually feel rather sorry for Ronnie, so they agree to protect him. Jack is convinced it is the right thing to do, to protect those who can't protect themselves. And when the local bullies do try to beat up Ronnie, Jack and his friends step in to stop them - and make their first mistake...

Their first mistake was to underestimate Ronnie Winter, because he is apparently unlike any other kid they've ever known. He lives with his lovely mother Cassie over at the old Steadman place, in the eerie Gothic-style mansion that used to be a mental hospital. And his ethereally beautiful mother has the uncanny ability to make Jack promise to be Ronnie's best friend...forever.

As Brampton starts to experience the coldest winter in its history, the closer Jack and his friends get to Ronnie. A freakishly cold weather pattern sweeps through the town, bringing with it a series of brutal snowstorms which cause the temperature to plummet even lower. And as if the weather conditions weren't bad enough, someone seems to be using the weather to their advantage: the residents of Brampton are being plagued by a series of nightmarishly gruesome murders.

And as the grisly death toll continues to rise, Jack begins to realize something more disturbing about his odd new friend, Ronnie. Ronnie Winter is already protected; surrounded by something far more powerful than an overprotective mother's love. He is being guarded by something almost supernatural - an unspeakably malevolent force that will torture and destroy everything in its path...

I must say that the first thing I noticed about this book when I received it was the eeriness of the cover - Gothic mansions with giant stone lions guarding the door just scream spooky to me, I suppose. Not that I'm complaining in any way, but I just wasn't sure how scary a plot could get with a cast of primarily teenage boys as characters. As the debut novel of a new author for me, I found that the plot was well-developed and satisfyingly creepy. I give this book a B+!

As it turned out, the book was extremely well written and I'm very happy to have read it. In my opinion, this was an intriguing debut; I will definitely be putting this author's name on my Wish List. ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Feb 29, 2016 |
During winter sometime in the 1980’s, Jack and Paul befriend Ronnie, the tubby new rich kid who moved into the old Steadman estate. His hot mom Cassie is protective of her son. Overly protective as only a mom in a horror story can be. And what’s that thing living in the tunnels under the estate?

Cruel Winter is Anthony Izzo’s first novel and it shows. The story was okay, but it was missing that extra layer of richness that Stephen King (who Izzo is obviously in admiration of) would add. Aspects of the novel were strongly reminiscent of It, enough that I kept remembering that book as I read this one. But those comparisons didn’t do Cruel Winter any favors.

The characters were clearly drawn, even if they didn’t always behave in a rational or believable way. The psychology of the book is shallow and just odd. Characters seem to always say exactly what’s on their mind and accept each other at face value, even when one character is telling another that he believes a zombie is responsible for the murders plaguing their town.

Cassie didn’t really have enough depth to be a particularly strong, memorable or even sympathetic villain. She mostly felt like a soccer mom who has ‘powers’.

The main girl character has a struggle not connected to the main story arc that could have been used either in counterpoint to the main story or to add depth to her character, but neither really happened here. In the end it felt sort of wedged in and intrusive and the end came off as just weird.

The book is set in the ‘80’s, but why? Aside from a few mentions of Duran Duran or Knight Rider, not much was done with the time-period, making it feel like a missed opportunity.

On the plus side, the writing was smooth and easy. Often when I was reading I would decide to read just one more chapter. But when I closed the book I wasn’t compelled to pick it back up again.

In the end, Cruel Winter was a solidly okay book. Though the story never really grabbed me, Izzo’s easy style did. I will read more books by him as the problems I had with this book can be chalked up to the inexperience of a first time novelist (I hope). ( )
  jseger9000 | Dec 18, 2013 |
This was an older book that I found at a library sale and when I saw it was in the horror genre I snatched it up! I'm so glad I did because I really enjoyed it!

It was fast paced and different. I zoomed through it due to his smooth writing and well written story. I enjoyed it and now I have have to go search down his other books! ( )
  Cajunbooklady | Dec 29, 2010 |
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The story begins with Jack, Paul, and Chris meeting up with one Ronnie Winter, a new kid who's pleasantly plump and a little bit odd. In other words, he's the perfect target for bullies. Not long after meeting Ronnie, the gang, as well as the rest of the town, begin to experience some wickedly cold weather. Not to mention a serial killer seems to be on the loose, using the blinding snow as cover for his crimes. All of this seems to somehow be tied to the old Steadman place and its dark history. When Jack and his friends meet Ronnie's lovely mother, Cassie, the story takes on an entirely new spin. While all of this is going on, the kids also have to deal with bullies, deadbeat parents, basketball practice, first dances and girls.
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