Love over the long run is not easy and in Tim Waggoner’s The Winter Box a couple discover, or rather, are forced to face this by a force demanding retribution for broken promises.
The idea itself is fairly thin. Happiness from the past made physical is haunting the present by means of collected marital contraband. It doesn’t exactly roll off the imagination with ease. It’s not a manifestation wholly fascinating or terrifying, then again, perhaps facing the truth after it's too late is just that. Potentially terrifying anyway.
As far as novellas go, this takes a while to spark up to much, but the author has skill, deftly painting a hard storm to trap the pair at the mercy of his vast imagination. Once the storm and the characters have been presented (a pair mostly unlovable, but entirely reasonable) into the scene, the story begins to weave its way from the natural.
Bring on said imagination. At points this reaches into territory I couldn’t help associate with Honey, I shrunk the Kids, shrunked life, and Bugs Bunny, reaching into mouths to snatch unlikely items. Though Bugs, to my recollection, was never penetrated while he retrieved jokes from an enemy’s gullet.This added an edge.
The finale arrives quickly with a firm blockade of frosty conditions, like a dam in a river. Sorry folks, there’s no further to go.
There were moments of cringe and dread and Tim Waggoner is a skillful writer. Still, this feels a little like a blown up short story. Too much for one and not enough for the other.