Release date: November 6, 2014
Published by: Createspace
No one said being an Undead is easy.
Winter’s Second Life became a lot more complicated when the Living moved into her hometown of Trenton. Undead neighbors fight with their Breathing ones. Food is sparse. And, worst of all, the season is taking a change for the colder. A desperate plea for help to a neighboring city turns deadly and soon Winter finds herself facing an old friend from her past whose plot to annihilate all life on the planet may have everything to do with her. And what about the man-with-the-heartbeat in her house? Is there even room for love in such a ruined, unforgiving world? New friends are made. Others are lost forever. In the dead of winter, no one is safe.
Dead of Winter is the second book in the woefully under read Beautiful Dead series by author Daryl Banner. It continues the story of Winter and her desire to find meaning, as well as fit into, the dystopian world she lives in. This is a very hard series to review because I have the tendency to go all American Lit 101 with it, but the one thing you must know is that this book is WORTH it. Banner uses a heaping of metaphors, allegory and symbolism to beef up this story, all with stunning results.
Dead of Winter takes place not too long after The Beautiful Dead ends. The humans and Undead are living together under the pretense of cooperation in Trenton, with leadership coming from both parties. Although it appears that everyone is getting along at the beginning of this novel, it becomes apparent that the trust between the living and Undead is superficial at best. The truce is mostly a pretty window hanging to cover the distrust that the humans still have for the Undead. Sure - the humans are happy that the Undead were able to save them from a terrible fate, but they would be ultimately content if the Undead would just go away. Some humans are boarderline hateful towards Winter, the girl who saved them all. And it's all about to become worse due to a lack of resources and the coming winter.
Themes of trust, reality vs. fantasy, love and loyalty are all explored in this novel. Winter and John are the central characters in this book, and lead by example. The human John is attracted to Winter but has a hard time coming to grips with the fact that she is not alive. His entire life, he has been told to fear the Undead and to not trust them, and he has a serious man vs. himself battle when it comes to Winter. After he finally accepts his feelings for Winter, John transforms into a male lead that I love.
Winter is the epitome of selfless. She is loyal to her friends, no matter what state of living they are in. She risks herself over and over again in an attempt to save her friends and find a better life for them. We learn more about Winter's first life and can see how she has changed as a person. Winter also has the ability to take criticism in stride. Although there are some awful things said about her, she fights through her own sadness and doesn't allow the comments of humans to control her life or her fear.
Winter is faced with a few faces from her past - some good and others, not so much. Some characters that we thought were all evil turn out to be not so bad, while others that we thought had a shred of decency hidden within them turn out to be as evil as you could imagine. Winter faces all the adversity in this book with her head up and the best intentions in mind. She is a very strong female lead, and refuses to take shit from anyone, living or dead.
The only thing I had an itsy, bitsy issue with was the quick development of the John-Winter relationship. Yes, Winter has harbored feelings for him. Yes, John has harbored feelings for Winter, although he was the one that needed to work through his issues with the Undead. In my opinion, it was quick how John went from being angry and off-standing to being completely in love and lust with Winter. Some additional build up would have been nice. Also (okay, maybe I had two issues) is the cover. I know that this cover model is someone the author knows. He's not a bad looking guy, but the way the cover is arranged is bad. I think that there is so much more that could be done to strengthen this cover and strengthen this book's first look appeal.
There is a cliff hanger at the end of this book, so be forewarned. The ending of this book is full of action and danger, and many characters that I have grown to love are hurt or worse. The cliff hanger had me very upset, but the book as a whole ended on a note of hopefulness.
If you are a fan of dystopian or urban fantasy, you really should pick this book up. This series is very well written and intricate. More people should be reading this book because not only is it a great story, but it is completely different from any zombie book out there right now. This is a series that must be read in order for it to make sense. I can't wait to see how this story ends!