The Fires of Winter by Cameron DarrowThe Fires of Winter by Cameron Darrow is the second book in Darrow’s From the Ashes of Victory series.  It can be read as a standalone, but the first book in the series is so incredible it would be a shame to miss it.  This is an urban fantasy, historical, romance series set in England at the end of the first World War that centers around a coven of exceptional witches.

The war has finally ended but the world has been drastically changed.  This is especially true for the former witches of ADAM (Allied Directorate for Alternative Means), a British program developed to investigate alternative methods of ending the war.  Now free from the government agency that controlled them, they have reformed into the witches of EVE, a new project sponsored by the wealthy Long sisters. Their goal is to use witchcraft for the greater good, to prevent war and to help heal humanity.  But most importantly, they aim to create a safe haven for witches, a family and sense of belonging where they can explore their powers and thrive amongst their sisters instead of living in fear and persecution.

However, while the coven has physically moved on, individually they are still trying to heal the emotional wounds from their past ordeals.  Victoria has not recovered from her nightmare at the asylum and is still struggling with the emotional battles of her past while simultaneously trying to come to terms with her ever growing powers.  And, just as Millie and Elise began to feel comfortable with their relationship, they are sent back into hiding as a new group of witches joins EVE.

Fleeing the hardships and persecutions of the Russian revolution, a new group of witches joins the EVE project trying to heal from their own losses and scars.  Combined, the coven is a force to be reckoned with, but the new arrivals also harbour a secret that could endanger everyone close to them.  In a world that fights them at every turn, they must fight not only to save themselves but everything they stand for.

The Characters

The writing is phenomenal, but the characters are the most important and stand out elements of this story.  This book is brimming with determined, resilient and affectionate women that are written with so much depth of character and emotion it is near impossible not to be drawn to them.  Millie, Victoria and Elise return in this sequel and are joined by a new group of witches from Russia.  Katya, Inga and Svetlana have fled the revolution and hardships of their country to join the witches of EVE. Their relationships are intense. Their personal struggles are authentic and poignant as they navigate interpersonal tensions, their growing powers, the ramifications of their past and new threats to their future.  The healing and the profound bonds they form as they forge on despite all obstacles are uplifting and heartening.

The Writing Style

Once again, I am left awestruck by Darrow’s beautiful characterization and descriptive language in this series.  If a good book is a window into another world, then the books in this series are transporters.  I was completely immersed in the world Darrow has created through vivid details and perfectly captured moods.

The Pros

What I love the most about this book are the characters; their friendships, the trials they go through, and their emotional depth.   They are so vivid, compelling and memorable that I became completely invested in them. 

The Cons

I don’t have any cons but will note that the book does delve into sensitive topics such as abuse, rape and suicide.  It is not graphic, but Darrow’s incredible writing makes the emotions involved tangible.

The Conclusion

Michelle's Favourite BooksI am blown away by this book and completely ensnared by its spell.  You will not forget the storyline, nor the setting, and the characters will sear themselves into your memory and nestle deep in your heart. This is an incredible series and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

Excerpt from The Fires of Winter by Cameron Darrow

From high above, the distant sound of rain on wood was a kind of white noise, adding the only real dimension to the place where Victoria Ravenwood worked.  Outside of her little pond of flickering lamplight was unchallenged darkness.  She could feel the emptiness of it, the sheer volume of nothing that lay beyond what she could see, waiting to swallow her whole if she set one foot outside of her circle of light.

As she stared out into an utterly black sea, her imagination filled in what might be lurking just beyond.  In such volume, emptiness had presence, and it loomed over her; seductive darkness calling her to take that step out of the light, to give herself over to what awaited on the other side.

But she couldn’t.  Tearing her attention away from the siren song of the void, she forced her mind back onto the problems that were before her, not behind.  As long as she had work to do, she could avoid taking that step.

Work was all she had.

In all the world, Victoria’s was unique, which gave her ample reason to continue doing it, as did the price she’d paid for the opportunity.

Never before had magic and science ever been brought together.  Either no-one had thought to, or had been able to, but in Victoria, they had.  Within her mind they were forced to not only coexist, but work together as functionally the same thing.  It was her Manifest, her unique gift as a witch.

Raised in a house of science, she now lived a life of magic, and used her gift in the latter to better understand the former.

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Series

From the Ashes of Victory

Remember November

The Fires of Winter

Hall of Mirrors

Bits and Bobs

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Michelle Blakey on FacebookMichelle Blakey on Twitter
Reviewer at The Lesbian Review
I live in Ontario, Canada with my amazing wife and our fur child Mozzie, a rather spoiled Brittany Spaniel. If I’m not seeking out my own adventures, I am reveling in the reading of the adventures of others.