Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lee Collins "She Returns from War" (Angry Robot, 2013)

When Victoria Dawes, a proper young Englishwoman, sees her parents killed by savage beasts, she embarks upon a journey of revenge.  Her journey will take her to Albuquerque NM, in order to enlist the aid of seasoned monster hunter Cora Oglesby.  Before Victoria’s parents can be avenged, first they must face the menace of a Navaho skinwalker.  

Collins’ first novel, Dead of Winter, was one of my surprise finds of 2012. It was a solid weird West tale featuring a unique voice and great plot twists.  Needless to say, I was excited to read the follow up.  Unfortunately, She Returns from War is more than a bit of a letdown.  

It’s not that this is a bad novel.  Plot, pacing, characterization, etc are all good.  But none of it really stands out against the competition.  Told from Cora’s POV, her voice was a distinctive feature of the first novel.  She Returns from War is told exclusively from the POV of Victoria Dawes.  After immersion in the roughhewn mind of Cora Oglesby, Victoria Dawes is a rather milquetoast choice.  

Additionally, a large part of impact of Dead of Winter hangs upon a very significant plot twist.  While my expectation is not that Collins should try to replicate this each novel, the plotting in She Returns from War is rather straightforward in comparison.

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