Heavy, complex, and deeply human.
I’d like to thank Simon and Schuster Publishing and Netgalley for the chance to review Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka. This novel was written with such a vivid realism that I felt as if I was intruding on the thoughts of the characters. At times, I found myself struggling to deal with the depth of feeling portrayed. Through multiple perspectives, we are taken to the fictional Broomville, Colorado nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (much like real-life Broomfield, CO). After returning from a vacation to the Denver area a week ago, the descriptions of this area felt exceptionally authentic.
“Colorado had this specific smell in summer, like pine needles recovering from a miserable winter and hot, red dirt sliding down steep mountainsides.”
Being given a firsthand look into the lives of characters who existed in a fictional place, based on somewhere I had recently come from was a pretty cool experience.
The story begins with a school assembly to inform students one of their peers has been murdered — the body of a fifteen-year-old girl has been found. Immediately readers are immersed in the psyches of some of the most complex characters I have ever read, as they cope with the aftershocks of an untimely and tragic death. Instead of the traditional “who-dunnit” feel, we are led on what feels like a study of humanity. How do the characters react? What motive may lie in their past? Who was the victim hiding connections to? How do the characters feel?
“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”
We are taken into the minds of Cameron and Jade, two of the murder victim’s fellow students, and Russ, a patrol officer in the town of Broomville. Cameron, a social outcast, obsessively stalks Lucinda during her short life, and Jade loathes her for her carefree nature and easy life. Their experiences following the death of Lucinda shed light on her life, and why she may have been killed. This leads readers to suspect numerous people could have been the culprit, but only one knows the full story.
As I read, at times the novel felt slightly tedious and slow but was so rich with characterization I was unable to stop reading. I wanted to continue getting to know the inner workings of each character on a higher level. However, the changing voices and varying timelines within the perspectives sometimes made forming a bond with the story more challenging than I would have liked. Preferably, it would have been nice to learn a little more about Lucinda’s life to feel more of a connection to the sting of her death. In the end, I was less concerned about who killed her, instead, I was eager to learn how Cameron, Jade, and Russ would connect. Despite this, I still felt the story was interesting enough with the intertwining characters and their unique psychologies.
Overall, I am highly impressed by the writing style of Danya Kukafka, a 24-year-old, first-time published author. The vividity she uses to describe thoughts, emotions, and feelings; with such a clear understanding of the human condition from each gender and perspective was truly mind-boggling. I have never encountered such a uniquely talented writer. For that reason alone, I felt compelled to give this novel 4 hard-earned stars and would recommend this to fans of a good mystery or psychological thriller. I will be keeping up with Kukafka’s career and look forward to reading more of her work in the future. I’d love for you to enjoy the exceptional writing of Danya Kukafka with Girl in Snow