Cover Reveal: SHE RETURNS FROM WAR by Lee Collins

Read our review for the first book in the Cora Oglesby series, THE DEAD OF WINTER.

Here’s the cover for the second in the series:

Cover Copy: Four years after the horrific events in Leadville, a young woman from England, Victoria Dawes, sets into motion a series of events that will lead Cora and herself out into the New Mexico desert in pursuit of Anaba, a Navajo witch bent on taking revenge for the atrocities committed against her people.

THE DEAD OF WINTER by Lee Collins

THE DEAD OF WINTER
Lee Collins

Cover Copy: 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: 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.

Rating: B+
Series: Cora Oglesby, #1
Publisher: Angry Robot, 2012
Acquired: publisher, via Netgalley

Get it — Amazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Kobo

[Title not available on Kobo at the time of this review.]

Is Western Fiction Poised to Rise from the Dead?

Trends seem to happen in twenty year cycles, and looking back on it, this is some of what was big two decades ago:

Young Guns went on to inspire a sequel a few years later.

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The western theme also influenced a lot of music. This is just a sample of what was playing by 1991:

U2 – Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Metallica – The Unforgiven
Aerosmith – Janie’s Got a Gun

In 2002 Joss Whedon tried for a resurrection of the Old West when he made Firefly, mashing the western with science fiction, but audiences just weren’t ready. The ratings weren’t there and the series was cancelled after just one season.

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But Firefly has gained many, many fans in the years following the cancellation. And this may be a reason for a recent increase in cowboy romance.

But I don’t think audiences are looking for the same old Old West. I think they’re finally ready for new takes on the final frontier. If Joss Whedon’s Firefly was to come back to the big or small screen today, the audience would be there.

Now the Old West serves as back-drop for urban fantasy. (I love it!) Check out these titles:

THE DEAD OF WINTER
Lee Collins

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.
Coming in OctoberAmazon CA| Amazon US | Chapters

The Signs of the Zodiac Series
Vicki Pettersson

Before you plan your next trip to Vegas, you might want to answer…

Are you Light? Or are you Shadow? Because there’s another world behind the bright lights and nonstop action of Sin city … one where Light and Shadow wage an immortal war for supremacy.

But the eternal battle has reached the tipping point, and only one person can change the future – casino heiress, photographer, and vigilante: Joanna Archer.

And no one knows the darkness within better than she does.

[The old west appears in the form of a hidden world called Midheaven in this series, and can be found in books 4-6, CITY OF SOULS, CHEAT THE GRAVE, and NEON GRAVEYARD.)
Get it – Amazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters

BLOOD RIDERS
Michael P. Spradlin

Civil War veteran Jonas R. Hollister is recruited by the U.S. government to hunt down and destroy an ancient tribe of vampires that is terrorizing the frontier territories of the Wild West in this action-packed new novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael P. Spradlin

See the UFL review of BLOOD RIDERS.

Get It: Amazon CA | Amazon US | Chapters 

What’s your favourite western? Tell us in the comments.