The Dead of Winter - Lee Collins

The Dead of Winter was one of those books I don't really remember buying but must have picked it up when it was on sale at some point - I also noticed that my local library branch has the sequel (She Returns From War) on its shelves so that also helped me get on with reading this one.

 

I'm always a bit underwhelmed by some of the blurbs used to sell books, particularly the 'X meets Y' type and to be honest, the one for The Dead of Winter (True Grit meets True Blood) was a classic example of one that made me go 'no, seriously?'. It's true, this is a Western and also has vampires, but it still sounds like the laziest possible version of an elevator pitch you could think of while also trying to be clever about it. 

 

Our story is set in and around a small mining town which has a big problem, with something killing the locals - the local law enforcement recognise they're out of their depth and reluctantly engage Cora Oglesby to deal with the problem when she rides into town. Cora has some experience in these kind of things, after all, even if she does insist that her husband (who nobody can ever remember meeting) is around here somewhere and also on drinking and gambling with the rest of the town's inhabitants. Anyway, various monsters ensue and get killed, including a sub-plot around Cora's own past.

 

It's an entertaining enough book and I finished it, which is always a good sign, but to my mind this is a clear example of what a female protagonist often looks like when written by a man. Being female, like having different coloured skin, is not something you get to put on and take off when it suits and society never lets you forget it, with the society of that time and place being even more that way than now. Cora is supposed to have been brought up in the South, middling poor with pretensions by the sound of it, yet all of her own experiences and background only pop up when it suits to push forward the plot. 

 

So, all in all not the worst thing I've ever read and I'll probably read She Returns From War if only because it's easily available and to see if matters improve any, but I'm not massively disappointed (at the moment anyway) that the series doesn't seem to continue beyond these two books...