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Darkthaw: A Winterkill novel by Kate A.…

Darkthaw: A Winterkill novel

by Kate A. Boorman

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I could not get into this story. Book #1, Winterkill was great, I was so excited to get this one in the mail and start reading. Only to find out it was nothing like I thought it would be. Needless to say, I won't be buying book number 3. ( )
  stevealtier | Mar 31, 2016 |
Darkthaw was certainly a stronger novel than Winterkill but it was also a creature of another kind. While its prequel was a mystery story at heart, that aspect of the plot is long gone now that Emmeline has left the settlement. Instead, the story is designed to be more of a journey. It marks Emmeline's first steps into the outside world and her growing revelation that it's not what she was expecting. I will warn you now that Darkthaw is not a very happy novel. It's full of death and sickness and loss, yet somehow this combination makes it a very compelling read.

This time, the story gradually starts to fill in the grey areas of Winterkill's world building. Through the experiences that Emmeline has in her journey, we begin to learn the nature of the world. It's roughly analogous to the settlement of America, with the native First People being gradually driven out and exploited by the arrival of "pale" settlers. The encroaching Dominion with their superior weaponry remain an ominous threat on the horizon while more frightening still are the opportunists who have branched out to claim land before them. The horrible implications of this, especially where women are concerned, is always felt in the story.

However, the novel still felt as though it was lacking something. It suffered a bit from being a middle novel, existing purely to get Em to where she needs to be for the final book. The story was a little unfocused, feeling more like a collection of events than a polished whole. It also suffered from a couple of glaring deus ex machinas, feeling as though Boorman had written herself into corners and could find any other ways out.

The characters also still varied in quality. Em's development continues to be strong throughout this novel, with her gradually learning to be honest with herself. She's certainly gone from strength to strength and is now virtually unrecognisable from how she was at the start of Winterkill. I really enjoyed seeing her friendship with Isi develop as this felt very natural and realistic.

However, many of the other characters felt very 2D. I didn't really care if many of them lived or died. They were merely forgettable presences within the story. I particularly had a dislike for Kane. His character seemed wholly manipulative throughout the story, like he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. While I found him dull in Winterkill, now I actively dislike him. I really hope that Em finds a better love interest in the final book.

All in all, the story is definitely getting stronger. I hope that this continues into the final part of the trilogy. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Mar 14, 2016 |
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"Emmeline, kept so long behind walls, finally achieves her deepest desire: to leave the isolated world of the settlement and explore the wilderness that has long called to her. The subsequent journey, with First Peoples guide Matisa at her side, soon proves far more dangerous than anticipated"--… (more)

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