BOOK REVIEW: Always Gray in Winter
Mamma Bear Book Review
Always Gray in Winter is a military scifi featuring an ancient clan of werecats with a long history of conflict and military involvement. It is an action-packed read with a huge cast of diverse characters all converging on a mysterious device which has to do with the werecats' "Affliction." Everyone wants the thing, and the race to possess it drives most of the conflict in the book.
The author is a master of detail, and the military situations in the story rang fully authentic and very well researched. Unfortunately, the sheer number of characters, flashbacks, and a prose style that is a little bit florid, made the story somewhat difficult to parse in places. While I really enjoyed the portions where clarity was strong, I was also often frustrated by confusion about who was who, how they were related, and what exactly was going on. A lot of this comes near the beginning when the reader is really trying to embed in the story, and I felt that there were times when the author could have been a lot more succinct for the sake of clarity.
That being said, once I'd sorted out most of the cast, and the greater motives of the several sides, I did finally sink in and invest in the outcome. At that point, Always Gray became an exciting, conflict-driven ride that kept me hooked enough to forgive the moments I had to go back and re-arrange my understanding of things.
It might not be an effortless read, but I enjoyed the story a great deal and look forward to future installments in the saga of the werecats. I give book one four claws up.
Many of the characters are related, and have similar names or multiple names/nicknames. I found it really challenging to sort them all out for a good chunk of the book. The werecats, however are pretty cool. The romance subplot was nicely done, though I feel like Pawly was perhaps supposed to be the "main character" but since she got about as much page time as any of the others, it really didn't feel like there was any, one main protagonist.
The world is incredibly well researched and portrayed in great detail. I felt like this was really the strong point of the novel and reading the military situations that came off the page with so much authenticity was wonderfully entertaining.
The book is conflict driven and action packed, but I felt like even though the pacing was steady and intense, having to stop and sort things out really slowed it down and continually pulled me out of the narrative. If the characters, motivations, and history had been established in a more straightforward way, it would have improved the pacing for me as a reader. As it was I felt like the author was trying really hard in places not to just come out and say things directly, but had erred too far on the side on not giving the reader enough information.
Details, research, world building and kick-ass action is where Always Gray in Winter really shines.