Angry Robot, out now
After a close encounter with horrific beasts in her native England, Victoria Dawes travels to New Mexico to get help. But has Cora Oglesby lost her fire?
Lee Collins’ follow-up to The Dead of Winter isn’t what you might expect – and that’s a very good thing. It would, I’m sure, have been easier to write a further adventure for Cora Oglesby in the mould of the first, as she deals with the loose ends of the first book and dispatches a new ‘big bad’.
Instead Collins opts for presenting his heroine in a very different light, as seen through the eyes of a young British girl to whom every aspect of life in America at the end of the nineteenth century is different. Whereas the focus of the first book was firmly on Cora, this time Victoria is the point of view character for pretty much the entire story (there’s a couple of sections near the end where it would be impossible to relate the events without switching to Cora, but they do come as a slight surprise when they happen).
Although, like Cora, you may want to grab Victoria by the scruff of the neck and shake her occasionally, the book is as much about her development as it is about the foes they face. Reluctantly, but of necessity, Cora starts to treat her as a protégée and there are moments towards the end of the book where you want to cheer as Victoria (or Vicky as she has pretty much become by then) applies the lessons she’s learned.
I’m hoping this was more than a two-book deal, as the milieu Collins has established lends itself to further tales.
Verdict: Like his characters, Collins hasn’t been afraid to take a risk, and it pays off. 8/10