Set in a near future in which bees and other species have gone extinct, Henna cloisters herself in a snowy Northeastern village, where she is haunted by the loss of her parents and twin sister at sea. When she discovers the body of a young woman at the edge of the forest, she's plunged into the mystery of a centuries-old letter regarding one of the most famous stories of Arctic exploration—the Franklin expedition, which disappeared into the ice in 1845.
Written in startling vignettes...Tina May Hall’s debut novel, The Snow Collectors, draws upon the depressed and desolate. Set in a snowpocalypse, Hall takes readers deep into the icy reaches of both past and future ... the short snippets propel the plot and almost taunt the reader ... The prose is lyrical but measured, evocative but never florid. Hall wields a frank briskness in her words, but not an impatience. Readers see clearly what they need to see, and by that token, they do not see what they do not need to see. So often a mystery disappoints by revealing too much or too little, which is not the case in Hall’s novel. The Snow Collectors is a surprising blend of genres. Mystery, of course, but of a definitive literary bent. The aforementioned traditional Gothic elements are also woven throughout, but with heavy intent, and Hall’s exploration of grief speaks authentically to its particular expressions and emanations ... Given Hall’s innovative style—its spare, quick pacing coupled with its punchy, exacting prose—readers can easily devour both [the book] over a weekend.
... intoxicating ... the text has heirloom sensibilities. Henna narrates, her purling phrases functioning like dirge, memorializing words as they fade into silence and passion as it buzzes to its peaks. Her fascination with nineteenth-century snow collectors complements her own preoccupation with resisting impermanence and restraints. The evocative secondary cast [members]...each contribute to the book’s dreamy Gothic atmosphere, which is redolent of candlelight and incense, marked by damask decorations and houses ablaze against the snow. Its brutality tempered by its lovely phraseology, The Snow Collectors is an unusual mystery whose quirks are worth giving in to.
Ms. Hall is my favorite kind of writer, a born poet who turns to prose and imbues that rather proletarian form with the grace and lightness of verse ... But the mishmash of The Snow Collectors defeated me. Grafted onto Henna’s psychological drama are acts of sudden violence that could come, as Henna puts it, from 'some cut-rate thriller.' Added to all that is a bizarre gothic romance involving the village police chief, whose ancestors were connected with the Franklin expedition. The story wobbles between these genres like the needle on a broken compass. It doesn’t lead you into mystery so much as simply get you lost.