Black as Snow
“Bottom line: A skillfully paced and plotted adult thriller (for readers who aren’t afraid of open discussions of sex, religion, and politics) written by an up-and-coming author whose career this booklover will now be watching with keen interest.”
In Nick Nolan’s Black as Snow we meet a character named Sebastian Black.
Sebastian Black is a gorgeous, rich, tall, strong, extremely charismatic, Cayenne Turbo-driving, 19-year-old, bisexual cult leader with a “sex-drive befitting a satyr on Viagra.” Oh yeah, and he’s also a telepath and a little bit psychic to boot.
Oh, and if you believe his mother, Kitty Black—and many people do—Sebastian may not only be the result of an immaculate conception, he may also be genetically superior to most of us: a bright, shiny example of the evolved human beings who’ll populate the earth after the mass extinction brought on by the Apocalypse (or for you science buffs, the Holocene Transition), signaling the death of the old God and the arrival of the new.
And let’s not forget about his enemies. If you believe them, Sebastian is Satan himself. In fact, with a little crackpot conspiracy theory spelling, the name Sebastian Black spells out “Satan Is Back,” which, of course, means Sebastian must die, his death either encouraging or thwarting off the Apocalypse—depending on which side of crazy you part your hair.
In other words, in Black as Snow, we meet Sebastian Black, a character—a larger-than-life celebrity who becomes whatever we project onto him: a savior, a false messiah, a brand, an opportunity, a hero, a murderer—and whatever else we choose to see in the mirror mirror on the wall.
But that’s not the real Sebastian Black. The real Sebastian Black is revealed in stages throughout the book by seven seemingly commonplace people whom he happens to meet during his self-imposed exile from the suddenly chaotic mess that’s become his life. These seven people’s stories and accomplishments are so incredible that they seem to dwarf anything Sebastian’s ever dreamed of doing with his life—a life he now realizes he never wanted, a life that no longer makes sense to him, a life he suddenly decides to leave behind.
And Sebastian’s timing couldn’t be better.
Because, just as he decides to skip town, the two separate but equally radical religious groups once only threatening him are now finalizing plans to assassinate him. There’s also the multimillion-dollar lawsuit he and his mother are facing which, once seemingly frivolous, now suddenly has legs. And if that weren’t enough, a long-held family secret is about to be exposed that could wipe out their entire empire.
But Sebastian’s biggest road block to escaping his former life could be his evil mother, an ambitious and manipulative “oracle,” who will do anything and everything she can to get Sebastian to come home and get back to work as the leader of their church—even if it means joining forces with Sebastian’s enemies. (With mothers like that . . .)
What follows is a mad dash to a surprising conclusion that even Sebastian couldn’t predict, including a murder or two, a brutal hate crime, an unexpected love affair, an epic revenge plot, and an extremely controversial sex scene you won’t soon forget.
In Black as Snow, we meet a character named Sebastian Black, who, if you haven’t figured it out yet, despite all of this reviewer’s many hints, is also a modern version of Snow White. This is a device Nick Nolan uses in this and his other books as a creative way to break down and re-imagine classic fairy tales. And while it’s an interesting piece of trivia, don’t worry if you don’t see it right away—or even at all. It won’t affect your enjoyment of this excellent choice to wind up the summer reading season.
Bottom line: A skillfully paced and plotted adult thriller (for readers who aren’t afraid of open discussions of sex, religion, and politics) written by an up-and-coming author whose career this booklover will now be watching with keen interest.