Reading level: Adult
Mass market paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Dark fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: October 30, 2012
Series: Cora Oglesby #1
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
Reviewed by: Jenn
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn't exist.
When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.
A stunning supernatural novel that will be quickly joined by a very welcome sequel, She Returns From War, in February 2013.
THE DEAD OF WINTER is a little different from some of the other books we talk about here on Tynga's Reviews. THE DEAD OF WINTER takes elements of a classic western and adds a supernatural twist, resulting in a winning combination of tough characters, a rugged setting, and creepy things that go bump in the night.
Fans of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series will definitely enjoy the gritty dark fantasy that is THE DEAD OF WINTER (and not just because of the shared cover artist and the resemblance I see between the depictions of Cora and Harper Blaine). THE DEAD OF WINTER has a great moodiness to it. The atmosphere builds from the first page and I was completely absorbed until the very end. The book is being billed as "True Grit meets True Blood" and I think it's pretty apt, as long as you're not expecting sexy vampires. The supernatural creatures in THE DEAD OF WINTER are about as far from sexy as you can get, and I mean that as a compliment. Lee Collins has monstrous creatures, not attractive supernaturals, in his debut novel and I thought it was awesome -- a real return to true horror. As much as I love a good PNR or UF with sexy supernaturals, I also dig something that's a bit more classic, where the monsters are monsters, not potential love interests.
The main characters in THE DEAD OF WINTER are great. It takes a little bit to get to know them but Cora and Ben are a kickass duo. I love how no-nonsense and tough Cora is from the very beginning, and that we get to see her vulnerabilities revealed over the course of the novel. Ben is her foil and offers a very different approach to the problems at hand, which makes him a nice contrast. Their relationship has some major ups and downs in THE DEAD OF WINTER and the resolution was a nice surprise. There are hints about it peppered throughout the novel so you may have an inkling but it's a nice layer even if you begin to suspect how things will end up.
If you're a fan of westerns and dark fantasy, this may just be the book for you. THE DEAD OF WINTER is well written and chock full of great characters and twists and Lee Collins has earned himself a place on my must-read list with his first novel.