Review of The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

SFFaudio Review

Dead of WinterThe Dead of Winter (Cora Oglesby #1)
By Lee Collins; Performed by Kaleo Griffith
Publisher: Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours

Themes: / crime / dark fantasy /

Publisher summary:

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.

Drunk two-dimensional Buffy in the Ole West?  Kind of but not as good, or as interesting.

The best part of this story comes at the opening with the deputy and sheriff investigating a murder scene in a wooded glen.  This section is good writing and it’s unfortunate that Collins dropped the ball after this point.  As soon as we make it into town, the narrative loses steam and barely manages a fizzle beyond this point.  Lee Collins is prone to the overuse of clichéd metaphors, similes, adjectives, and verbs.  Collins seems to handle nouns okay though.  Here’s the thing, Collins has a blocky, predictable, dull-as-paint style of telling a story wrapped up with the failed promise of improvement.  It never gets better than the beginning.

The elements of fantasy are embodied within one windigo and several nondescript vampires with one “big bad” thrown in for good measure.  And before you think I’m attaching the label of “big bad,” I am not.  Yes, Collins actually used that phrase to describe a vampire boss.  Oh and did I mention there’s an English chap who’s rather bookish and knows a lot about the supernatural?  Hmm, wonder where Collins came up with that…  The fantasy in this book seems second rate at best and at worst, they come across as a generic knockoff of Buffy.  Technically there is fantasy in this story.  One might even call it “dark fantasy” if one wasn’t overly concerned with accuracy.  As I’ve said, this is a great commuter candidate but it falls apart if you look at it too close.  If I were going to sum up my feelings about this in two words, they’d be “disappointingly unoriginal.”

Kaleo Griffith as narrator does a good job.  And while I would prefer it if he would back down the level of dramatization, he is a solid reader.  But someone needs to inform him to stop injecting that level of base into his voice when he says the chapter number.  Funny at first and then just creepy bizarre.

This would be a good audiobook for a long commute.  You don’t have to pay much attention to it and if you don’t expect much, maybe it will float your boat… or not.

Posted by Casey Hampton.