Winter by Dan Grace is a novella about a group of people trying to survive in the north after a war has broken out in the UK. However, one of their companions seems to have powers beyond that of an ordinary person, and everyone’s survival depends on the decisions they are about to make. Winter is told in alternating time periods during the escape from populated areas and a while after they’ve been living off the land in the winter. It’s an interesting premise, but I found myself too frustrated by the lack of answers in the end.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Winter from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Winter by Dan Grace
Published by Unsung Signals on Feb. 22nd, 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic
Page Length: 83 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - Goodreads
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In the aftermath of an anarchic uprising, a group of revolutionaries flee London for the north, coming to terms with the violent loss of their companions, battling with illness and a new way of life.
In the forests of the Scottish borders, they meet Mikhail, a Ukrainian immigrant in touch with powers they can scarcely believe. But is he all he seems? Because the snows are coming, the seasons turn, and the laws of the cities mean little to the woods.
In Dan Grace’s debut novella a violent future of the failed Union meets the mythic and pagan past. As man reaps the harvest of war, utopian hopes vie with apocalyptic fears. Winter sets in.
- I was hooked immediately by the premise of Winter. I love survival stories after an apocalypse and I especially love powers rooted in pagan beliefs, so combining those two elements was great.
- What we see of the magic that apparently exists is that sort that relies on the wildness of nature to have power. Maybe I just love deer more than is healthy, but any magic that asks deer to help is a winner for me.
- There is a lot of complexity hinted at in this story. Clearly something major happened to cause a war to break out, and perhaps our characters were involved in that. The how and why and who are these other people at the cabin drove me to keep turning pages right to the end.
- The characters of Winter stand out vividly in my mind despite the short page count. They are all given unique personalities and back stories that I really want to know more about. Characterization is probably the strongest part of this novella now that I think about it.
- A huge pet peeve of short fiction for me is when a story doesn’t give any answers. I know the page count is short, but if you raise a big question as the driver of the plot, I need some hint at the answer! Winter poses all these questions of how the world and characters got to this point, but doesn’t even start to answer those questions.
- The story jumps around in time a lot without markers to help orient the reader. At first I was really confused, and then I mostly figured out the two main time periods of before and after that we were jumping between, but I still found myself struggling to remember what happened when.
- In addition to the time jumping, Winter switches between present and past tense depending on the time period and wow is that jarring. Present tense is hard enough for me to get used to reading most of the time, but when that is then intermixed with past, I just couldn’t get used to it.
Winter is a novella with an interesting premise and strong characters that just doesn’t deliver the plot structure that I need. I imagine another kind of reader will really enjoy this story and it would make for a great discussion in a book group. I’m excited to see what more comes out of this new short fiction imprint though!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Winter by Dan Grace
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