Title: Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter #2)
Author: T.A. Moore
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Page Count: 240 pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When the Winter arrives, the Wolves will come down over the walls and eat little boys in their beds.
Doctor Nicholas Blake might still be afraid of the dark, but the monsters his grandmother tormented him with as a child aren’t real.
Or so he thought… until the sea freezes, the country grinds to a halt under the snow, and he finds a half-dead man bleeding out while a dead woman watches. Now his nightmares impinge on his waking life, and the only one who knows what’s going on is his unexpected patient.
For Gregor it’s simple. The treacherous prophets mutilated him and stole his brother Jack, and he’s going to kill them for it. Without his wolf, it might be difficult, but he’ll be damned if anyone else gets to kill Jack—even if he has to enlist the help of his distractingly attractive, but very human, doctor.
Except maybe the prophets want something worse than death, and maybe Nick is less human than Gregor believes. As the dead gather and the old stories come true, the two men will need each other if they’re going to rescue Jack and stop the prophets’ plan to loose something more terrible than the wolf winter.
This is a fast-paced, tense read; but don’t expect it to be an easy one. The mythology is fundamental to the understanding of the plot, but it is not always clear what is going on or why. Whilst acceptable to limit detailed explanations as asides, to avoid distractions to the storyline, I would have valued an annexe the provided the mythos for reference. Similarly, the belief systems and histories of individual characters are only revealed and the plot demands. This can provide revelations that are not always effectively contextualised; this leaves the reader wrong-footed as to who the character really is. Consequently, affinity and empathy are quite difficult. Sadly, these gaps in understanding can sometimes be compounded where an historical memory of a character is revealed that is grounded in the mythology where neither is adequately explained. The reader either struggles on in the hope that clarity will be presented later or ultimately gives up. The story is fascinating and it does hold the attention through its mix of mythologies and modern features, so it is worth sticking with it.
The characters in this book are more approachable in their behaviours compared to the first book, although it is strange that this should be the case given that one of the lead characters is the more wolf-like of the twins. Certainly, when the brothers come together there is a clear snapping antagonism that is wolf-like, but the relationship with the human is more approachable than wolf to dog.
It is strange that the human gets away with more behaviour that differs from pack actions compared to the dog in the first book, given that humans are deemed more lowly. There is a clear that develops between the two lead characters and although the sex is few and far between, it is passionate when it occurs.
There is a fast pace to the story, if the reader can keep up. A whole raft of new characters are introduced and many are cast by the wayside as the story progresses. I did find it difficult to keep all of the names and relationships clear in my head, which made the understanding of certain scenes less clear than they might be. Because there is so much going on in a variety of locations, it is not easy to go back and make sense of what is going on.
The end of the story resolves some, but not all of the plot threads. Similarly, the mythology is still being explored, which requires further explanation. The plot of this story is wrapped up quite quickly and it felt as though the author needed to tie things up without dragging it out but leave clear markers for the next book. It felt a little abrupt. I do hope the author is able to provide a developed mythology as an annexe in the next book, assuming that to be the last. It would make re-reading that much more pleasurable.