SHADOW OF THE WINTER MOON by Cam Sinclair
Review and Cut by Luke Winch & Tyra Leann
Drunk … Scoundrel … Thief … Vagabond … Fool … Reelum Hangs has been called many things, and at one time or other has resembled them all. Reelum, however, knows a dark and terrible secret—one that delves right to the heart of Kraven city. Sharrock is a grisly veteran from the harsh lands north of the Riven Expense—a brutish man with a hard temper and harder reputation. When a business opportunity presents the seemingly simple task of locating Reelum Hangs and providing a solution to his money woes, Sharrock is set on a course that will forever alter his life. Foul conspiracies that may threaten the very fabric of society will be uncovered. Scores will be settled, violence and mayhem unleashed, and bestial lusts unfettered to rampage without restraint. The notion of right and wrong, hero and villain, action and consequences will forever be skewed and tainted. Welcome to the Kraven Kronicles …
Tyra: Reading the synopsis, looking at the cover, everything about this book should have worked for me. Unfortunately, I decided to DNF the book about 25% in. Plot threads were being set up but it was fragmented and instead of weaving together they were all hanging individually. I expect that a quarter of the way into the book to have at least somewhat of an idea of what the story is heading, in this case, I couldn’t even have told you who the main character was. The prologue was brutal and incredibly disjointed from the subsequent chapters (TW: attempted SA and violent death) that it didn’t feel necessary.
Luke: I will preface my thoughts with the fact that I had to DNF this book at 30%. I generally enjoy grimdark fantasy, I’ve read quite widely within the sub-genre, so Shadow of the Winter Moon was an immediate pick for me, plus it has a great front cover.
The first chapter hits hard and dark with a horrible sexual assault which I think sets the tone of the book really, at least the first portion of the book that I read. The author clearly knows the sub-genre as I think he writes really well, setting a tone and atmosphere of oppressive despair and brutality that lends itself well to grimdark. His descriptive and evocative writing style shines through in the short, sharp chapters.
The character of Sharrock I found interesting and engaging and I think if I hadn’t struggled with the darker content I would have liked to have continued to see where the story took him and how he developed.
I did find that the beginning of the book felt a little scattershot, with each chapter either introducing new characters or elements which all felt a little in-cohesive to me. I can see what the author was maybe trying to do, in giving us a flavour of how brutal and awful the city of Kraven can be, but it felt too disparate.
What made me stop reading though was that it all was a bit too much for me. If you are a fan of incredibly dark and violent fantasy, then you will more than likely enjoy Shadow of the Winter Moon. As much as I like grimdark, this was not entirely to my taste and felt a little overwrought with its sexual violence. Unfortunately, this is a cut for me.
If Shadow of the Winter Moon sounds like your cup of (dark) tea, check out the author’s Goodreads, or jump on over to Amazon to grab a copy!