The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins
Publisher: Angry Robot Books/Oct. 30th, 2012
Kind thanks to Angry Robot Books for providing a review copy
When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious, bloody deaths out in the badlands, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if she is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, Cora must first confront her own tragic past.
Cora Oglesby is handy with a .35, a natural on horseback, and creatures of the night don’t do much to scare her, so when she and her husband Ben must tackle a creature stalking the citizens of Leadville, Colorado, it’s all in a day’s work for the twosome. Bounty hunting is Cora and Ben Oglesby’s stock in trade, but their specialty is in things that no human wants to deal with. Dispatching a lone creature is one thing, but something else has taken up residence in the silver mines right outside of town, and the threat has grown much, much bigger. Cora is tough, and Ben is smart, but can they take on a pack of monsters so dangerous they could decimate a whole town?
On the cover, The Dead of Winter is described as “True Grit Meets True Blood”, which isn’t a bad comparison, per se, but the vampires in The Dead of Winter aren’t particularly sexy, instead going with the more classic (and scarier, for me) form of the nosfaratu. The True Grit comparison does, in fact, apply and I love the gritty, snowy, Wild West atmosphere that the author has set up, because it’s a perfect environment for dread (picture 30 Days of Night.) Cora is also not your usual heroine. She describes herself as “not pretty” with crooked teeth and stringy hair, but she also doesn’t linger on such things (there’s monster killin’ to be done, folks.) Although, there’s a particularly poignant moment when she talks about how Ben looks at her with longing, seemingly not to notice her (self-perceived) shortcomings.
The duo actually remind me a little bit of Sam and Dean in Supernatural. Ben is bookish and shy, and Cora is a winner-take-all, both pistols blazing kind of gal, and I really like that about her. She’s like a particularly fierce force of nature and she blazes through the pages of The Dead of Winter, kicking ass and taking names. Hard drinkin’, hard gambling Cora is certainly the star of this book, but there are plenty of other interesting characters populating the landscape.
This is a fairly quick, fun read, and there’s a twist that you may not (or may…) see coming, and plenty of vampire killin’ mayhem to satisfy any urban fantasy reader, with lots of Old West flavor thrown in. I’m anxious to read the next book in the series “She Returns From War.” The Dead of Winter is a rollicking good debut!
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