Sara Walker's Reviews > The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins
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Sep 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical, urban-fantasy
Read from September 27 to October 24, 2012

Kaleidoscope Reviews

The story starts with a mystery plot: on a cold winter day in Colorado a marshal and his deputy investigate the remains of a couple of miners. The murders are unlike anything they've encountered and seem to have been caused by something unnatural. A stranger in town, Cora Oglesby hears about the strange deaths, and offers to put her years of monster hunting to work for the marshal.

Through the first half of the book, Cora and her husband Ben hunt this dangerous creature. I was disappointed with this half of the book for a few reasons. The investigation into the type of creature and how to kill it seemed to drag. After their first encounter with the thing, Cora and Ben board a train and head to Denver to find out more information about the creature, leaving the town to protect itself. I thought this a bit odd. They've been hired for this job, but they're leaving?

Cora is presented as a bad-mouthed, whiskey-drinking fighter. Ben is presented as the quiet half, keeping to his books. I couldn't understand why he wasn't the "expert", the one to research the monsters they've encountered, to send telegrams when they need outside advice, etc. I also became aware Ben was noticeably absent for all the big fights. He was with the horses or gone to bed for the night. What kind of husband leaves his wife to do all the fighting? I wanted much more from Ben and had I not been reading on my Kobo, I would have tossed the book at the wall.

From the book description, I was expecting a husband and wife monster hunting team. In fact, Cora and Ben reminded me a lot of Zoe and Wash from the TV series "Firefly". I could get behind a monster-hunting couple where the woman was the main fighter and the husband provided support. Unfortunately, THE DEAD OF WINTER isn't it.

The monster is killed at the mid-point of the story. The mystery comes to an end. Cora and Ben pack up to leave town. The feeling at the mid-point was so final I almost put the book down and didn't look back.

Before they board the train to leave town, Cora and Ben take on another job: hunting and killing a nest of vampires holed up in a nearby silver mine. The job is familiar to them, as ten years ago they fought a nest of vampires near Denver, and the money is too good to pass up. The job is familiar because the same big bad vampire is behind creating both nests.

I wanted more about this big bad vampire. He seemed hell-bent on eliminating Cora, on making her miserable, but we're not given a sufficient reason for this. Yes, she destroyed his nest ten years ago, but even back then he wanted her to suffer-- for no apparent reason. Since he is so vital to Cora's character, this should have been developed much more.

[SPOILERS]

The ending felt rushed. The build up to the big twist at the end was not as obvious as it should have been. Given the story was billed as a husband and wife monster hunting team, and that's what I expected (and wanted!) I was not impressed with the "Sixth Sense" twist. Considering this story involves vampires and other monsters, I also cannot see why the author had to make this choice of messing with Cora's sanity versus allowing for a ghost. And in the end, Cora isn't changed by this twist. Yes, it gives her a push to defeat the big bad vampire, and it gives her the knowledge of her true reality, but little else. My feeling is the twist was there for readers' entertainment versus character growth and I really would have preferred the latter.

[/SPOILERS]

With its twisty plot and kick ass heroine, THE DEAD OF WINTER gives readers the fun of seeing vampires in the Old West. Cora is a character worth rooting for-- from holding her own at the poker table to her determination to defeat every monster that crosses her path. I look forward to more of her adventures.

I'm torn in how to rate this one. In terms of what I expected, it's a B. But expectations aside, on it's own I think it's very close to an A. The Old West world is well done, the monsters are frightening. Cora is an interesting, complex character, but her development needed to be stronger.
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