November 10th, 2011



David Wellington's Overwinter picks up where Frostbite left off, with Cheyenne Clark and Montgomery Powell, reluctant werewolves, heading north to the Arctic Circle. As the novel opens, we discover they're not just going somewhere remote where they can't hurt anyone--Powell believes there's a cure to be found up there. Unfortunately, they're not alone. The werewolf who passed the lycanthropy curse onto Powell, the insane Frenchwoman Lucie, has come looking for him, and on her trail is the Russian hunter Varkanin, who has ingested enough colloidal silver to turn his skin blue and make him invulnerable--poisonous even--to werewolves.

Frostbite was a solid novel, but its scope was pretty limited. There's a lot more going on in Overwinter, which in my opinion makes it the rare sequel that's better than the original. The characters are more complex, the mythology is expanded upon, and the rules of the werewolf pack are explored in more depth.

Speaking of mythology, Wellington really plays up the Inuit and Dene animal spirits he introduced in Frostbite, allowing us to meet more of them, including a grumpy, reclusive polar bear spirit who's addicted to soap operas. Wellington also explores the curse that created lycanthropy in much more detail, looping in everything from trickster spirits to Neanderthals for the origin. In these ways, much like Frostbite or even the final volume of Wellington's zombie trilogy, Monster Planet, Overwinter is more a fantasy novel than a horror novel. There's a much more palpable sense of wonder and magic to be found here than dread or terror, which is one of the things I happen to like most about it.

Wellington has always displayed a keen and creative imagination in his novels, and this duology offers an exciting and original take on lycanthropy. I'd recommend both books to anyone who'd like to see new life injected into an old horror trope.