Darkthaw (Winterkill #2)
By: Kate A. Boorman
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 13th, 2015
Council has fallen. The Thaw is here. The world outside Emmeline’s fortification awaits. Urged on by her dreams, Emmeline sets out with her new friend Matisa and her beloved Kane, venturing into exhilarating wilderness, into freedom, into the unknown.
The secret that has secured peace for Matisa’s people for generations has been compromised. Newcomers are arriving, laying claim to the land and bringing unimagined horrors. Emmeline vows to help Matisa warn her people, but with new perils at every turn and the enemy closing in, she finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Forsake the friend who saved her life or abandon the boy she loves.
Darkthaw is just as beautifully written and chillingly atmospheric as its predecessor. Kate once again weaves a fantastic post apocalyptic, North American world with a diverse cast. After dealing with a winter filled with loss, Em is determined to follow her dreams and journey with Matisa to her people. This is only spurred along by the arrival of a stranger claiming that more people from the Dominion are advancing on their territory. Finally having an excuse to leave the confining world of her settlement, Em and Kane, Matisa and Isi and Nishwa leave to travel to back to the First People. Except things do not go as planned and Kane’s mother and brothers decide to tag along in the worst decision ever made.
While Winterkill took place in Em’s settlement and the surrounding woods, Darkthaw expands on the world Kate has created, but maintains the same chilly atmosphere and surreal feeling that takes hold whenever the characters leave civilization. Most of this book takes place with the group travelling, so this surreal feeling is present for most of the narrative. New enemies are encountered, and the dangers that threaten Em and her friends grow beyond the controversial ideals held by the settlement people in the first book. In addition to the outside threats, Em and Kane’s relationship is also put to the test, and here lies my main issue with the book. Kane is constantly wishy washy, and his contrariness compared to Em’s single focus determination is frustrating. I felt that Kane created a lot of problems for himself that didn’t need to be there and his put upon attitude, how he feels compelled to follow Em and blaming her for not just staying put and for keeping secrets she promised she’d keep to herself, was infuriating. In addition, some of the things he says to Em, some very hurtful things, made me want to slap him, while his inability to include Em in his family even when he says he loves her and wants to be with her made me want to shake him. The romance in this book didn’t progress, but, rather, took a step back.
Despite my annoyance with Kane, the character development otherwise was spectacular. You have Tom coming out of shell, and the bonding between Isi and Em was great and it felt natural that the relationship moved from something close to hate to a sense of respect on Isi’s part. Darkthaw was a great addition to the trilogy and left me wanting the next volume and wondering where the story would go next.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. An advanced copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.