Publisher: Pocket Books
Publish Date: December 26, 2012
Origins: From Publisher for Review
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Order From: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: Set in apocalyptic America and featuring a magically enslaved heroine who is “a riveting mixture of guts, compassion, and furious anger as she struggles with a world coming apart at the seams” (Romantic Times), the fourth in a dynamic dark urban fantasy series unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
Winter is coming to Montana and Shadowblade warrior Max is expecting trouble. People are hoarding everything. They are banding together, many flocking to the congregation of Sterling Savage, a fire-and-brimstone preacher. A charismatic cult leader who claims to be the Hand of God, he’s determined to create a human utopia and destroy all magic, starting with witches.
Unbeknownst to him, the “divine” voice he’s been hearing isn’t God but a demon that feeds on hate, death, and destruction. Savage is the perfect puppet for the demon’s ambitions. Max and her people at Horngate are all that stand in its way, and they are woefully unprepared.
Conducting terrible, bloody ceremonies to boost his own power and that of the demon riding him, Savage starts a war between his congregants and two other powerful gangs in the city, fighting for food, fuel, clothing and territory. When he manages to capture Max’s niece, brother, and several teenagers from Horngate, Max tries to free them but finds that Savage has twisted their minds. They worship him—even her brother, who is a witch and whom Savage intends to burn at the stake. Going undercover in the cult compound, Max swiftly realizes just how seductive Savage is. His charisma is reinforced with magic. His followers adore him and will do anything for him. Anything.
But courage, loyalty, and friendship are powerful forces—and Max doesn’t like to lose.
Review: Since the wild magic has returned and all manner of creatures have sprung up, Max at the Horngate Covenstead face challenges from numerous fronts. Everyone is starving, with food and water supplies dwindling and now a new cult has sprung up. The leader is a charismatic man who promises his followers protection and survival, while turning them all against magical creatures and especially witches. Max must face the fury head on, as always, but will it cost her too much this time??
I’ve read this series since the beginning and I’ve always loved Max’s no-nonsense character and her strength. While I understand Max’s push-me-pull-me feelings in her relationship with Alexander, she seems uncharacteristically avoidant to dealing with the situation. Especially in the face of everything she’s gone through in her life, it just didn’t feel like ‘Max’. I liked the action and mystery in ‘Blood Winter’ and I was glad to see the Covenstead allying with the mundanes, as they were all facing the same problem. I’ve read on the author’s website how ‘Blood Winter’ is the last book in this series. I deeply and sincerely hope there is at least one more book in this series. While the book did end in a semblance of ‘happy ever after’, there were loose ends still left open. Overall, I’ve really liked this series and I’m sad to see it end, if it is definitely ending.
Horngate Witches Series: Bitter Night (1), Crimson Wind (2), Shadow City (3), Blood Winter (4)