As Pure As Snow

A gripping tale of tragedy, revelation and reckoning

Fiction - Literary
248 Pages
Reviewed on 06/19/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

As Pure As Snow: A Gripping Tale of Tragedy, Revelation and Reckoning is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama subgenre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Cory Maddalena. Set in an industrial town years after a disaster in a steel factory results in the deaths of eight hundred people, the book follows several characters as the effects of the disaster continue to damage the community. As they search for answers in the wreckage of the factory and their lives, the dangerous secrets that have been kept threaten to bring yet more tragedy into their lives.

As promised by the title, this book very quickly got its hooks into me and had me gripped, unable to put it down as each chapter left me keen to find out what happened next. Author Cory Maddalena has created an intricate and absorbing mystery at the heart of this thriller, and the web of characters' lives that surrounded it was incredible to witness expand and develop as the story went on. Each of the characters that formed a part of this tapestry was wonderfully nuanced and presented, every one of them feeling like a living organic creation who enhanced the story with their ambitions or flaws. Overall, As Pure As Snow offers up a compelling and complex tale about the aftershock of tragedy and the way that a major disaster continues to affect the people it touched long after the dust has settled. A powerfully told tale of suspense and drama, I recommend this book to all.

Marta Tandori

History has a habit of inevitably repeating itself and nowhere is this more evident than in Cory Maddalena’s work of literary fiction, As Pure As Snow. Seventy years ago, the steel factory in Korman, Niagara burned to the ground, killing everyone in it but, like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, so did Korman. Korman’s fame in the wake of the tragedy grew and soon, another steel factory was built, bringing prosperity and fortune, along with an unsavory culture of bigotry and prejudice as thousands of immigrants arrived at the factory, hoping for a better life. It’s in this unsettling environment that the mayor of Korman enthusiastically plans his upcoming political campaign. What he can’t possibly foresee is the miraculous discovery within the walls of the ruined factory that brings together unlikely adversaries in the form of budding journalist Brooklyn Toomes, 104-year-old Rose Wilson whose long life has been marred by a series of tragedies that started with the loss of her first love to the factory fire seventy years earlier, and twin factory workers, Tessa and Assam Hassan, who arrived in Korman seven years ago from the Middle East hoping for that better life. They suddenly become a threat to his campaign and must be stopped at all costs.

First, to address the so-called elephant in the room – the author’s deliberate non-use of quotation marks to express dialogue in As Pure As Snow. Admittedly, this is a distraction at times and can remove the reader from the story. However, some will argue that this is the purest form of expression. Whether you agree or not, it’s a personal choice and should not detract from the enjoyment of the story as a whole. One’s journey to adulthood is more often than not shaped by one’s childhood and the memories it holds. When those memories are good ones, they create a solid foundation for adulthood, replete with emotional maturity and intellectual stability. However, when those childhood memories are bad, they inevitably leave ugly scars in the form of emotional baggage, depression, and withdrawal. Cory Maddalena’s prose is at times stark and unapologetic as he systematically lays bare the souls of his protagonists while, at other times, it’s beautiful in its descriptive simplicity. The premise of the story may be a stretch for some readers but its grounding in starkly-felt emotion gives it relatable authenticity. Wrenchingly bittersweet, As Pure As Snow is a beautiful work of literary fiction that is sure to leave an emotional mark on all who read it.

Natalie Soine

As Pure As Snow by Cory Maddalena takes place in Korman, Niagara. An explosion destroys the steel factory where most townsfolk are employed, consuming 807 employees. Seventy years later, the ruins remain but the growth of the town brings unwanted foreigners. Refugee twins Tessa and Assam file a grievance with union boss Carl Fullop against their employer, David Carson, whose ignorance causes mass action. Mayor Anthony Hemsworth is so focused on controlling the town and the workers that he ignores his wife Erika and daughter Jane, much to his later regret. Brooklyn - an aspiring journalist - discovers a hidden secret linked to 104-year-old Rose Wilson who lost her first love, Jackson Bailey, in the factory fire. News anchor Ventresca Moore and police chief Tony Morano become involved in the mystery which could lead to the downfall of many powerful people.

As Pure As Snow is an intriguing, suspenseful novel involving a dysfunctional community and the tragedy that affected all of them. Cory Maddalena has created an impactful story that reminds us that it takes only a small group of dedicated people to make a meaningful change. The interesting characters are all well-defined and contribute to the plot. Cory describes the events in detail as well as the environment and emotional trauma caused by the factory fire. I especially enjoyed the story of Rose and Jackson, as well as the surprising twists and turns. This novel is well-written and keeps the reader enthralled from beginning to end. A remarkable story that is highly recommended to all who enjoy a good page-turner.

Paula García Lasa

There are places where the line between the city and the citizen blurs. No matter where you come from, I'm sure you can think of one. Korman, Niagara is one of them. Korman is the center of the action in Cory Maddalena's novel As Pure As Snow. The burning of the steel factory is a tragedy that determined Korman's history and that of its citizens. Years later, the shadow of events lurks and entangles everyone's lives. The remaining pile of ashes covers some secrets. Will Korman maintain its ignorance or will the secrets come to light? And if they do, will they be revealed in time?

As Pure As Snow depicts an intricate story. Cory Maddalena intertwines many plotlines in a complex web of events that fit together perfectly. The plot advances at a leisurely and constant pace. I think it's one of the few times I've said that as a compliment. The story is tragic, intense, and emotional, like a continuous infusion of poison that destroys you. The pace stays the same throughout the book, but the intensity grows. Its beautifully written pages hook you. Complex, three-dimensional characters support the incredible plot. Each character is unique and all of them have something to add to the story. Maddalena uses each one to say something important. The author uses them to deliver a message people need to hear. As Pure As Snow is a solid novel that addresses many relevant themes and shows them powerfully and emotionally. This book has the potential to affect the reader in the same way the tragedy of the factory marked Korman.

Steven Robson

As Pure As Snow by Cory Maddalena is a vividly engrossing journey into the small community of Korman, Niagara; a melting pot of ethnicities drawn to an impressive school and a perhaps more impressive steel factory. Whilst outward appearances portray a peaceful haven of prosperity wrapped in the purity of winter’s driven snows, something more sinister lingers beneath the surface of this pristine environment. An intangible flow of emotions that permeates every household, affecting the lives of some in profound ways, driving them to act outside of their normal frames of reference. Just when these emotions seem to be at a boiling point, Brooklyn Toomes makes a shocking discovery that will become the eye of the cyclone to follow, drawing the groundswell of discontent to it like a magnet. Families will be torn apart and futures wrecked in this maelstrom of discontent, and the only question that remains will be: who survives untouched?

Cory Maddalena’s As Pure As Snow is a visually stunning portrayal of both the raw beauty of nature and the incredible depth of emotions that exist within and between family units and friends. Each character has been crafted sublimely to reveal unique and genuine personalities, and even those on the shadier end of the scale possess traits that make them human beings we can relate to. The families of Anthony Hemsworth and Rose Wilson are particularly exceptional to me, with the issues they confront being very real and quite moving in many ways: Rose’s relationship with her granddaughter and Natalie, and Tony’s relationship with Erika and his daughter being prime examples. There is also deft subtlety within that the reader’s mind can contemplate. Jane’s snow globe with its lone figure has the potential to be a metaphor for her father’s life or even that of Rustman. As Pure As Snow is definitely an adventure that I would recommend to everyone who enjoys quality stories and very human tales.