The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: folks who think they might enjoy it
Trigger Warnings: Plot holes. Discrepancies. Annoyances.
Disclosure: I received an ARC (unproofed galley) from Angry Robot via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: 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.
My Thoughts: I’ve seen a number of negative reviews for this book, but it sounded like something I might like, so I figured I’d check it out and see what I thought, rather than relying on what other people think to decide whether or not it was a worthwhile book. Of course, I ran the risk of wasting my time reading a really horrible book, but one has to take a risk once in awhile, right?
It didn’t start off so great—on the very first page there is this very weird description: “. . . his breath lingering in front of his nose like a lover’s ghost.” What does that even mean? But I took a deep breath (minus the lingering lover’s ghost) and plunged on.
Now, some people have commented on Cora starting to throw a rock at the crow, but that was just realism—people weren’t terribly concerned with kindliness to animals at that point in our history. However, when Cora closed an eye to aim her pistol, I was pretty irritated. A person with any knowledge of the proper handling of handguns and how best to aim them will know that one is not supposed to close one’s eye, as that will distort one’s aim. A lot of people do it anyway, but it’s not correct, and I’m guessing someone like Cora, who is supposed to be a professional and (I would guess) a sharpshooter, would know that. So, yeah . . . typical writing by someone who knows very little about firearms culture. This occurred very early in the book and made my heart sink . . . I was pretty sure this would not be a book I would end up liking if I was already nitpicking it this early. Another of the minor things that really bothered me was when Cora ate some snow to ingest some water—well, sure, that would work, but you would have to eat a lot of snow to manage to quench your thirst, and in the meantime you’d end up with some serious hypothermia. Again, anyone with any common sense or knowledge about wilderness survival should know this. Not to mention the author, on more than than occasion, uses a phrase that just drives me crazy: “stood to his/her feet.” Does that phrase bother anyone else? I’ve been pointing it out when I edit, that it is redundant and ridiculous, but I see people using it all time. What’s up with that?
Now, don’t get me wrong; the story itself was entertaining enough, when you were reading it. But there were so many little things like the ones I mentioned above that it started to become a bit irritating. For instance, Cora is supposed to be some big-shot monster hunter, but doesn’t have the awareness of what is going on around her to notice that someone is acting out of character? I don’t know... it all sort of aggravated me. This is a neat plot twist in the last quarter of the book that was unexpected, but even then I couldn’t stop my nitpicking. Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly why I had a problem with that without giving out spoilers, but I’ll give you a very minor one as an example.
So, at the end, I have to rate it as only 2 stars, because while the story was entertaining enough at times, and that plot twist was awesome, there were just too many other problems and I ended up the book with a feeling of distinct annoyance. I mean, if you think the story will amuse you, and you can ignore the things I’ve mentioned, definitely go for it. It’s well-written enough overall, and I assume any typos I noticed will be corrected in the final copy, but … I really didn’t like it that much.
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