Friday, 10 January 2014

Book review: Dark Winter by John Hennessy

Series: Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle #1 
Publication Date: 09 October 2013
Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Amazon (I caught it on a special promo weekend for free)

Goodreads Synopsis:
Romilly Winter is no ordinary heroine, just a reluctant one.

She has a gift. She can see the future. But can she see far enough? The world in which she lives is under attack – the dead are rising, and evil follows her at every turn.

Will she be able to save herself – and the world?”

From the Diary of Romilly Winter, October 14th.

"I’ve had two years to prepare for this. In that time, I have never told a soul. Of course, my Nan knew. She’d bequeathed me the mirror, after all. Now, maybe tonight, tomorrow, in a few days, the event that I don’t want to happen with all my heart, will come to pass. I’m not ready. I know I’m not ready, and yet, it will happen nonetheless.

Nan had this thing in her possession for nearly seventy years. She had told me I simply had to be at Rosewinter, prior to my sixteenth birthday no matter what objections my parents raised. She said I was ‘special’, and was the only one equipped to deal with what was coming. 

The problem is, I don’t feel special, I just feel…different, and in all probability, that isn't going to be good enough.

In just two days time, I will be sixteen years old, and if anything my Nan said is remotely true, I will be lucky to survive that long…."

My Review:
This is the first paranormal horror type scary book I have read in a while. John does a really great job with the creepy factor and I really enjoyed the little superstitions quirks he brings into the story like the cracked window and 13 steps at Rosewinter. 

Characters: 4/5
John definitely creates interesting and lovable characters as well as scary creepy ones! 

Romilly - I connected with Romilly and liked her quite quickly. She is the reluctant heroine and has her 'flaws' but this only makes her more interesting. Who wants a perfect heroine right? I understood her reluctance about the mirror and her Nan's approaching prophecy, I could feel her innocence in the whole scenario. I found it funny the ghost stories would freak her out yet she would always go back for more - Typical kids. Romilly handled the Zombie girl showing up in her room, much better than I would! She is so brave, yet she doesn't even realise her own strength and bravery. The POV jumps between past and present but it is easy to follow and I enjoyed learning about Rom. Romilly is definitely my favourite character. 

Nan - the lovable Grandma. I felt her sadness in passing on this legacy but her strength as well which truely helped Romilly. Her grooming was subtle but I wish she left Romilly with a little bit more to go on. I could see the point of why Rom knew so little, but while rooting for her I wished Gran could of helped her a little bit more before she passed away.

An added extra - I loved the her Grandad's superstitions, he doesn't feature much in the story but I would have loved to know him a little bit better. 

Romilly & Nan - I enjoyed the love and respect between these 2 characters. You could feel their bond through the pages.  

Beth - Beth is a good character but not such a great friend to Romilly. I did grow to like her a bit during the story as she became more involved. 

Toril - I loved her Wiccan ways and her love for Sherlock. She is nonplussed and nice/accepting. I didn't take to her immediately due to Romilly's POV of her, but as the story moved on and you got to know Toril, she became my second favourite character! 

Curie - Curie is a strong character in this book. You don't really realise his place in the story until about halfway through. He is creepy and makes a really good 'bad' guy. I didn't like him that much (which is probably the point) and definitely don't want to be around him or on his radar!!

Plot, Pace, Writing style: 4/5
John has an easy writing style. He describes in fine detail and beautifully. There were one or two editing errors but nothing that took away from the story. I really enjoy John's humor (See favourite quotes below).

Sometimes I would get a bit lost as to where Romilly was in the house. One scene she'd be in the room combing her hair, the next scene making some tea in the kitchen, next scene sliding back into bed. There was no indication of movement between the scenes. 

The story jumps around a bit from the present to the past and back again, and it feels like there are holes in the story line initially but John ties everything up really nicely in the last few chapters. 

The plot is interesting and keeps your attention, John also throws in quite a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming. The story has a great pace. The story has a rounded ending without a cliffhanger but definitely with more to be explored in the next book of this series! 

Cover talk: 5/5
I loved the cover. Its so beautiful and creepy at the same time!!

My Rating:

~ Favourite Quotes ~

"You have to conquer your demons, right? Otherwise you live your whole life in fear. I won't live my life like that."

"All what Nan? This is show and tell. You show me things and tell me nothing." 

"I had forgotten to ask the instructor what to do if a zombie-girl ends up in your house uninvited. I'm sure the response would have been 'Oh. Zombie self defense class. You must have missed that one.'" 

Other children's words can only hurt you, Romilly, if you let them. You can't control what they say, but you can control your reactions to them. 

Toril wanted to spit back a retort, but she knew Beth was hurting, just as bad as she was. "Beth, I need you more than ever. Please just be a friend. Be a support, okay?"

Author Bio: John's first book was published in 2011. Whilst always working on a follow up, he is interested in all sorts of genres, and will pretty much read anything.

In 2012, John completed a first draft of an epic fantasy novel and hope to release it in 2014. In 2013, just in time for Halloween, saw the release of **'Dark Winter' - a paranormal horror aimed at the YA/NA market. 

December 30th 2013 will see the release of the updated 'The Essence of Martial Arts: Special Edition' book.

John's favourite reading genre is without doubt horror - he rates Stephen King and Anne Rice as his stand out favourites, although he would also add Kendare Blake to that list now. John enjoys fantasy novels like the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Rebecca's World top the list there. Dystopian - Nineteen-Eighty-Four has been a long standing favourite, with The Hunger Games a more recent addition. Romance - He loves Jane Austen, and seems to rate Northanger Abbey higher than most people. 

Author LinksGoodreads l Twitter l Facebook l Blog

Final Thoughts: All in all - Yes I will definitely be continuing with this series!



PS Check back tomorrow for my Author Interview with John!


  1. Great review!!! Now, I wanted to read it after your 4 star review especially with an interesting heroine added in the story :) Can't wait for the interview with John. Thank you for sharing, Chene!

    1. Thanks Nicole :) I hope you get it and enjoy it too!! It's so nice to read something so refreshing and different! John is awesome :)

  2. I've heard of this book before and, although I'm not a zombie fan, it sounds very intriguing. I really appreciate when there are twists and turns I can't predict at all, and in a paranormal horror this is something that definitely makes the story gain lots of points! Great review, Chanzie :)

    1. Thanks Silvia :) It didn't really realise it was a zombie book until I started reading it. Not my normal read but it was refreshing and creepy!

  3. Romilly sounds interesting, and I like that it all came together by the end and made sense for you.

    1. Romilly is a great character! Toril was a close second to the favourite too :) Yip hanging in there a bit pays off with the overall storyline!

    2. I'm with team Rom, definetely. But at a push, Toril's very handy in a tight spot (slightly mis-quoting Gimli in Lord of the Rings!)

  4. This sounds like a great read. I love it when what I think are plot holes are actually going to be tied up all in the end.

    1. It was a fun and scary read!! Gosh I remember reading this just before I went to bed and it was pretty late.. need I say more...

    2. Yes, please say more. Remember to share, not scare xD


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