Winter Halo, by Keri Arthur

Winter Halo, by Keri Arthur book coverGenre: Apocalyptic Fantasy
Publisher: Signet
Published: 2016
Reviewer Rating: two stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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Winter Halo, by Keri Author, is the follow-up to City of Light, and I might feel differently about Winter Halo had I read the first book. I was never able to get my footing. I didn’t understand the world or the players or the source of the conflict and weirdness. As a result, the book mostly misses the mark for me, although there were aspects to it that I enjoyed.

The narrative is first person, told from the perspective of Tiger (Tig), who is some sort of left-over-from-the-first-war genetically engineered super soldier called a déchet. Weapons used in the long-ago war tore holes in the fabric of the universe, allowing for all manner of strange and evil creatures to get through, and now, a hundred years later, artificially lit cities (is there any other way to light cities?) keep the bad guys out, like the vampires and ghouls.

Tig is a type of Mary Sue, a virtual superwoman who can pretty much do anything: become invisible, walk through walls, heal herself, shape shift to look like any human, see and talk to ghosts, travel through dimensional portals, kung-fu fight, control her pheromones at will to make her irresistible to anyone male or female, read minds…. it’s a pretty exhaustive list. And it makes for an extremely boring characters.

Once I fully understood the full extent of her powers, the author’s attempt to put her into jeopardy felt fake. She’d just whip out some sort of awesome ability and save herself. Add in an unrealistic and poorly written sexual attraction to another character that renders her into the simulacrum of a babbling teen with crush, and I was left with a story that had no tension and made no sense, and characters I didn’t care about.

The supposed main plot was that children from Central City were being kidnapped and experimented on, and Tig was going about rescuing them, but that never came together for me. No one — besides Tig — seemed all that interested in them. No one in the story has a connection to any of them, so, naturally, neither did I. At the center of this was some sort of dastardly pharmaceutical company, evidently the ones experimenting on the children, as well attacking female security guards.

I had some difficulty following the plot over the course of the book. There’s what I’m starting to call the Game of Thrones effect: a surfeit of plotting and planning by everyone involved that makes keeping track of everything hard to do. Maybe because I didn’t read the first book, and my understanding of the world was incomplete, the rifts, magic, and genetic manipulation didn’t left me lost.

So while the writing was strong and there were some interesting aspects to the world Arthur created, I wasn’t able to lose myself in the story. That might be different for those who read and enjoyed the first book in the series.

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