Reading Scott Carson’s The Chill gave me chills like the ones I got when I first read Stephen King’s the Shining. Set in a remote town in Upstate New York, the Novel usually begins fairly, with a broken relationship between father and son, but quickly cascading into a story about vindictive spirits and a generation of disaster in the making.
Carson, a pseudonymous best-selling author and screenwriter, is closely related to Aaron Ellsworth, a 20-year-old Coast Guard rescue diver, whose penchant for medicine and alcohol has sparked his father’s persistent anger. Annoyed after an argument, Aaron seeks solace by swimming in the Chilewaukee Reservoir in the middle of a downpour.
When he accidentally injures a state inspector, Aaron dives into the cool water to save him, only to find the skeleton of another person trapped in the rubble under the dam. But when Aaron calls his father to admit what he did, the inspector reappears with no sign of health issue and no memory of meeting Aaron.
Aaron soon learns a strange story about the body found underwater and the people who sacrificed themselves when the dam and reservoir were laid out and flooded the town of Galesburg. As Aaron attempts to piece the story together, the ghostly spirits begin their own quest for revenge against those who condemned their city to destruction by launching the collapse of the dam itself. Between confrontations with the dead and the imminent rupture of the dam, Carson skillfully and exponentially multiplies intrigues and peril.
Carson contains many factual depictions of New York’s real reservoirs and tunnels, sections that might have been dry and boring, if not for its deep characterizations and a penetrating sense of shipwreck. The result is a fast-paced, frenetic story of survival against the natural and supernatural forces that make you take to the air.