An ancient gift becomes a nightmare for a young mother and her son in this unique, supernatural thriller. Mourning the loss of her oldest child, Brit Helm moves to a small beach town where she struggles to create a new and normal life for her youngest boy, Michael. But the intrusion of a pretty surfer threatens to shatter any hope of maintaining control, and control him she must. Michael isn't like other boys. When Michael gets angry his blood runs cold...and terrible things can happen.
"Think about the King classic Stand by Me and you’ll understand the feeling that comes over you at the onset of this read...You’ll need to sleep with the light on for more than a few days in order to shake the feeling that Michael Helm ignites within your imagination." -- Feathered Quill Reviews
Think about the King classic Stand by Me and you’ll understand the feeling that comes over you at the onset of this read.Michael Helm and his mother are racing to California in their Plymouth Fury to start a new life. Once there, Michael investigates their new town and basically sees a whole lot of dust, and a riverbed framed in ice plants that had managed to produce a “sprinkling of red flowers; enough to make the riverbed look like some giant with a bloody nose had run across it.” (Just one of many spectacular explanations!) The place also has a store called Big Jerry’s; a dilapidated building that would fit perfectly into any ghost town.They’ve moved from the Helm House in Phoenix. It was there that Michael would play with his older brother Nicky – an artistic soul who is now dead. In addition, Dad has “left” the family, and now Michael and his mom (a woman who suffers from blinding headaches), have gone to his grandparents’ bungalow. This is a shoebox filled with mold and dirt that smells putrid, like old nicotine that came from Gramps Helm’s constant chain-smoking.The first oddity about Michael is seen on that walk through town when he has a “run-in” with a very large seagull. But instead of the normal “fiery” anger that most people experience when they get mad, Michael turns cold. The feeling of horror that runs through his veins is like ice...and let us just say that bad things occur when Michael “turns cold.”Soon he meets up with others who are enjoying the end of summer before school starts up again. Sandy Randall is a girl coming of age, so to speak. She has dealt with a growth spurt that has slowly turned her body from that of a tomboy into “girlfriend” material, and her buddies are starting to notice. Meeting and befriending Michael turns Sandy’s world upside down.With Michael trying to fit in, and Mom getting a low-level job in order to create some kind of future for Mikey, readers set out on a path that includes everything from a kid’s fort that’s destined to be the spot of nightmares, to a monumental mystery involving a group “tracking” the Helm family.The only downside to Running Cold, which does not negatively affect the story, are the editing/formatting issues. Putting that aside, author Steve Zell is always extremely gifted at mixing thrills with sci-fi, YA, mystery, and the darkness and fear that raises goosebumps to the nth degree. With Running Cold, he has done it again.
"...a smart, smoothly written horror tale in the King vein." — Kirkus Reviews
Zell’s (Running Cold, 2012, etc.) somewhat nostalgic horror novel, a young boy is far more than he seems.This tale begins innocuously enough, in the mid-1960s, with single mother Brit Helm moving from Phoenix to the suburban town of LaVista in Southern California. She’s doing her best to be both parent and friend to her 12-year-old son, Michael, but they’re still grieving the loss of Michael’s older brother, Nicky, and their new home, choked in dust and mildew, is a far cry from their previous one, with its swimming pool and mountain view. Michael is also now the new kid in LaVista, facing the usual social minefield, which includes a pretty surfer girl named Sandy Randall. Brit has her hands full, too, as she tries to settle in, find a good job, and keep a watchful eye on Michael. Subtly and gradually, Zell makes readers aware of the fact that Brit’s worries about her son extend beyond mere protectiveness: “From the moment they’d placed Michael in her arms, she knew this one is different.” In carefully doled-out increments, we begin to learn the nature and extent of that difference, interwoven with the stuff of ordinary childhood as Michael experiences a crush, obsesses over movie monsters, and keeps an eye out for potential bullies. This is classic Stephen King territory—indeed, this book will certainly appeal to King fans—and Zell knows his way around it, gradually darkening the tones of his plot as it progresses toward a climax that effectively blends psychological and supernatural elements. The book is also saturated with the music of its 1960s period. Brand names are highlighted with a touch too much regularity—the kids ride Schwinn bicycles, of course; Michael sets his record player on a stacked set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and so on. That said, Zell’s enthusiasm for his material wins out over mere box-checking.A smart, smoothly written horror tale in the King vein.