Lee Collins has just released his follow-up to his debut novel, The Dead of Winter. With She Returns from War, Collins continues to mash together Westerns and Horror, creating an entertaining adventure story.
Victoria Dawes and her parents, returning home one evening, are run from the road by supernatural beings, killing both and leaving Victoria with a thirst for vengeance. She seeks out James Townshend, the British vampire hunter and scholar, who refuses to help, but points her in the direction of Cora Oglesby. Cora, the heroine of The Dead of Winter, has retreated from the dark world of hunting demons, and sunk deeper into drinking. She’s gone from hard edged bad-ass to ornery drunk, with no interest in helping Victoria until the girl has a run-in with dark, mystical forces that awaken Cora’s own thirst for vengeance. The two then set out in search of a mysterious and dangerous Navajo witch who is herself seeking revenge for the terrible treatment her people have endured.
Collins has tightened his writing from the first book, keeping the pace brisk and the action fierce. He isn’t precious with his characters, or afraid to show their uglier side. It’s a testament to his style that they remain sympathetic even when they aren’t at their best. The interplay between Cora and Victoria felt honest and was handled well. The two come to appreciate each other not through baring souls, but through working together. He also creates a fascinating character in Anaba, the witch, who is driven by rage and hate but perfectly in control of her every action.
She Returns from War is a fun continuation of the world Collins has been building, and he sets the stage for further expanding this world in future books. I look forward to seeing where he goes next.