Book Review: Dead of Winter

Dead of WinterWARNING!!!! This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in this series! So DO NOT READ if you haven’t read the previous books! You have been warned…

Details:

Title: Dead of Winter (The Arcana Chronicles #3)

Author: Kresley Cole

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers     

Release Date: January 6th 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Paranormal

Pages: 303

Synopsis:

Heartbreaking decisions

Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory

Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on the Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned

There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first…?

Story Recap:

Last time on Endless Knight:

Evie and Co find themselves a new friend, Mistress of Fauna (Strength) or Lark. With control over animals, specifically a bird and three giant wolves, Lark is able to see through her animals’ eyes, and they will live as long as Lark lives. On their travels, Evie and her friends wander into the mountains, where they get kidnapped by cannibals. Inside the cannibals’ layer, they find out that the leader of the cannibals, and the one who turned them that way, is another Acrana card, The Hierophant, He of the Dark Rites. The Hierophant uses mind control to trick people into doing what he wants them to do, in this case eat other people, and as soon as they give in, they are forever under his control. After some time, the Hierophant tries to trick Evie into eating human flesh; however, Death comes to her rescue by snapping her out of the trance. Evie ends up killing the Hierophant, gaining his icon and the wrath of his followers.

As she and her friends escape the mountain, Death and Ogen show up. The Devil, causes parts of the mountain tunnels to collapse, though not before Death takes Evie away from her friends. It is then that they found out that Lark had betrayed them to Death, and helped him kidnap Evie, leaving the others to die in the mountain.

Death steals Evie away to his apocalypse-proof mansion, all the while she tries to figure out how to escape him. She almost succeeded in getting away; however, Death stops her and takes away her powers. During her imprisonment, she discovers Mathew’s betrayal: helping Death get into her head and telling him how to take away Evie’s powers. She also discovers her link to Death. The Empress is the only one that Death can touch without killing. They were lovers once, and they were even married in a previous game, until Death killed her for trying to murder him on their wedding night. Since that game he has been hunting her down, trying to see if she had changed and killing her when he found no love from her.

For three months Evie is trapped with Death, Lark and Ogen. For three months Evie tries to figure out how to escape and get back to her friends. In those three months, Death begins to see that she isn’t like her other incarnates and he starts to fall in love with her again. In those three months, Evie fights to remember and hold onto the love that she and Jack had shared, all the while she starts to fall for Death as well. After three months, Evie believes that life at the mansion would not be too bad. Until Ogen tries to kill her and Lark, causing Death to step in and steal the Devil’s icon. After that, Evie discovers that Jack has been taken by the Lovers and she is determined to save him, even if it means escaping Death.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Holy ever loving Lord! This book was a trip!

Dead of Winter is like a runner that starts off a two mile race by sprinting, and then doesn’t really slow done, instead, at the end they just sprint the last 400-800 meters like a bat out of hell. You track runners will know what I mean! Anyways, this book starts off running. There wasn’t a recap. There wasn’t a slow build up from a jog to a run. No, this book just starts off running and doesn’t really slow down. I had the hardest time finding good places to stop so that I could go to class, do homework, or even sleep! At the end of each chapter I had to read more, to find out what happened next and sleep be damned.

If you thought the series had some pretty horrific scenes in the last book, wait till you read this one. WARNING! Dead of Winter has torture themes! I do have to clarify though; Cole doesn’t describe any scenes in which there is active torture. Instead, she describes all the torture devices, the area in which they were found, the horrible smells of death, people in the beginning stages of turning into Bagmen, all the blood and gore, but no actual torture. There’s one scene in which the reader finds a tortured individual, however, it is not that bad. Any torture that is mentioned, or even partially described, is through dialogue. I will say though, that at times I had to set the book down and just collect myself because the gore did get intense, at least for me.

As other people have reviewed, not a lot goes on in this book. Dead of Winter spends a lot of time developing the love triangle that appeared in the last book. You get to see Evie try to actually choose between Aric and Jack, and how they compete for her favor. You also get to see a lot of character development for the characters, even some of the minor ones, which was nice. I actually enjoyed reading more detail come to life in some of the other characters, and reading as bonds formed and fell. I felt like I had all the piece of the puzzle layed out, until Cole lifted up the puzzle box and threw the hidden pieces at me. Suffice to say, Dead of Winter adds some more intricacy to the plot of just ending the game.

Oh Lord, that ending though. The ending for this book is a dozy, like the top of the cliffhanger is Mt Everest level and there are birds pecking at your fingers. I’m pretty sure my whole building heard me scream in anguish and frustration. Anguish for the epic heart break in my chest and frustration that I have to wait until next July for the next installment. Whatever you do, don’t get attached to any ship!

Final Thoughts:

I’m not usually a fan of dystopias, especially post-apocalyptic ones that make humanity out to be a bunch of scumbags even in the face of extinction. I realize that we are scumbags as a species, I don’t need a reminder of the sick things that we would do to survive in a dying world. However, Dead of Winter and the rest of the books in the series are not that bad. Yes, they’re dark, and this one gets really dark, but the idea for this dystopia is rather interesting and creative.

I’m also not much of a fan for love triangles, but I have read worse. Both guys start off pretty rough and I found no love for either of them. However, as time went on through the series, especially in this book, you get to read about their transformations. No, they might not be complete flip arounds, but they are not the same assholes they started out to be. In Dead of Winter, you get to see how Evie affects them and changes them for the better.

I would recommend this book to anyone that loves dystopia, especially if they like The Hunger Games. While this book has different themes, they both still have a very gladiatorial feel to them, especially when you read about the Acrana Game origin. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in post-apocalyptic books; this one is a bit different from the others I’ve heard about.

I would not recommend this to anyone that doesn’t do well with neck-break cliffhangers, especially if the entire series isn’t out yet.

Rating(s):

4.5/5

This book is going unto my favorites. While parts of it were frustrating, especially when I thought I was going to suffocate from the testosterone poisoning or the ‘steamy’ scenes, it was a pretty fun read. Well, fun in the sense that you don’t stop running until the end when the author rips out your heart and chews on it right in front of you. It was an interesting installment to the series. While yes, it did not add much to the journey, the book did add to the characters (minor and major) and the nature of the game. Some people may find this book a waste of time, but I found it to be a wonderful, if gory, reprieve from my studies as a college student. I have always loved the idea for this story, and the characters are all so interesting and different, and after dead of Winter my opinion of the series hasn’t changed.

The only reason this book doesn’t get 5/5 is because at the end I had a hard time following Evie to her ‘decision’. I think Cole built Aric and Jack up to where you felt pity (and sympathy) for both of them, and could see Evie with either. However, I think she didn’t show Evie’s train of thought clearly enough to follow, at least for those who were rooting for the other guy.

Related Reviews/Books:

Coming Soon!