Blood Winter by Diana Pharoah Francis | Book Review

February 14, 2014 Reviews 12

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Blood Winter by Diana Pharoah Francis | Book ReviewBlood Winter by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Series: Horngate Witches #4
Published by Simon and Schuster on December 26, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

NEW GAME. SAME RULES. SHE FIGHTS. THEY DIE. Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . . Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .

My Initial Reaction…

I continue to devour this series, my only disappointment being that there  this was the last book in the series.The story is far from over IMHO and I won’t lie, I’m VERY upset that it’s over! In all seriousness, I think this may be the main reason I can’t give Blood Winter 5 stars – it’s not a satisfactory ending to a series, as much as I loved every minute of it.

The Story…

In Blood Winter Max, Alexander, Kyle, Tory, and Carrie are preparing to go into town to see how the townsfolk have been dealing with the Change when disaster strikes. An unknown witch has gathered followers around him, making himself into the next Jesus – but his self-proclaimed work as “the right arm of God” is to wipe out the evil among them, namely Witches and those who consort with them. He brings his mission to Horngate’s doorstep – passing through their wards with four “witches” nailed up to burn. Of course Max and her crew resolve that something must be done about the unspeakable horrors he’s perpetrating against the helpless, but the more they work to defeat him the more powerful they realize he is and the more hopeless the situation seems. The Angel’s are still out and the Grimms (and Spike) take off, leaving the Coven ill equipped to fight without losing more of their family. Not to mention their still reeling from the loss of Niko. All the stress threatens to tear Max, Alexander, Tyler, Thor, Giselle, and the entire coven apart.

Like the rest of the series, Blood Winter was non-stop action, complete with painful descriptions of every horrible blow Max, Alexander and the rest of the crew took. For me, Blood Winter surpassed the others in the added element of mystery. Who was this preacher-dude and what hope did they have to defeat him? There were so many twists and I really never knew what was going to happen next, keeping me perpetually on my toes. Diana does an amazing job of capturing the feelings of despair that Max and really everyone were feeling and I definitely had a few teary eye moments. And watching this haphazard family come together at such a depressed moment to fight was arm-tingly, goosebumpy at times. Did I mention I loved this book?

Concluding Sentiments…

A really wonderful read. Diana Pharaoh Francis continues to weave incredibly unique fantasy with heart-wrenching and painful detail. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for deals on any other books she’s written for sure!

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About Diana Pharaoh Francis

I was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern California (outside a town called Lincoln which is now part of an enormous sprawl). I taught myself to ride a horse at the age of six, as no one had the time to teach me—they were all busy learning how to irrigate, how to cajole an angry bull into another field, how to pull a calf… Afraid of heights, and absolutely sure I was going to die, I managed to scramble up on the back of a very patient and lazy strawberry roan destrier, and plod off into the sunset.

Thereafter, I spent much of my early life on horseback, or so far buried into a book that the rest of the world ceased to exist (much to the annoyance of my family—it took several attempts to get my attention). We all had very specific jobs on the ranch and mine was horses and cattle—out rounding up at dawn. And since I rode bareback, my standing request was to wake me up 5 minutes before everyone else headed for the barn—time enough to dress and eat my Wheaties, and no sleep time wasted on saddling.

After high school, I attended college after college, racking up a BA and MA in creative writing and a Ph.D. in literature and theory. My very patient and supportive husband traipsed across the Midwest and back to Montana for me (though my husband insists that he’s been running and hiding and I just keep finding him), where I now teach at the University of Montana-Western. We also a son Q-ball, who in our humbly unbiased opinions, is the most wonderful son ever produced, and a daughter, Princess Caesar, who is the most wonderful daughter ever produced.

I have a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, I like spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and I have an odd sense of humor. (Or so I’ve been told. Often.) Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact my real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.

Some of my current favorite sf/f writers are Ilona Andrews, Carol Berg, C.E. Murphy, Patty Briggs, Lynn Flewelling, Rachel Caine, David Coe, and Anne Bishop.


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

12 Responses to “Blood Winter by Diana Pharoah Francis | Book Review”

    • Berls

      Sounds like the series is going to start up again either late this year or early next year! Squee!! You absolutely must check it out – it’s one of my top 5 favorite UF series.

    • Berls

      So I heard from DFP (comment above plus a tweet convo) and the series may get 2 more books after all! *squee*!! If that were to happen, I think I’d change my rating to 5 stars because as a mid-series book it’s great. Just not right for an ending to a series!

    • Berls

      I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that!! When/if it happens I would love to help spread the word in every way shape and form. I’ll go stand on a mountain and scream LOL or read an ARC 😉

    • Berls

      I’ve started putting books on my calendar when I get that feeling that I just NEED to read it already. So far, it’s working. Maybe it’s time to put this series on the calendar? LOL I want everyone to read it, I love it so much! 😉

    • Berls

      Oh I really hope you’ll give it a shot! I love everything about it and wish more people would read it!

  1. Jessica

    I love this series. I love this series so much that it kind of blows my mind that so few people have heard of it. I love this series so much that I haven’t read the last book b/c I’m mad it’s the last book :/ I’ll get over it one day, but right now I’m gonna keep procrastinating. I just wanted to share the Diana Pharoah Francis love. Great review!
    Jessica recently posted…Review: Cress by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

    • Berls

      I’m right there with you Jessica! It’s a travesty that this series hasn’t gotten a lot more exposure – at least among the urban fantasy fans. It should be up there with the Hollows and Night Huntress, etc!

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