Ronelle: After reading the first book in the Outcast series, I picked up the audiobook version of Winter Halo and loved it as much as I loved City of Light. Keri Arthur penned a fascinating continuation of Tiger’s story, and Mia Barron did an excellent job bringing it to life. Winter Halo is one of those books that reminded me why sci-fi and fantasy are so often grouped together and it’s the best of both worlds, with dystopian romance thrown in for good measure.
Jen: It took me a little while to get back in the groove with this series, though to be fair, I didn’t really feel all that connected to the characters in the first book either. I did get more interested as I kept reading and the story built, only for it come to an abrupt end. Basically, the rhythm of the story progression felt… off… and I’d imagine it would be a substantial challenge for a new reader to jump in to the series here.
This book picks up where City of Light left off. Tiger is determined to save the remaining children who have been kidnapped for experimentation, but she plans to do it on her own, without the help of Nuri or Jonas. Only, her resolve is short lived. In virtually no time at all, they’re all working together again to get inside the lab where the experiments may be centered. In the meantime, she is using her gifts as a lure to seduce a high ranking official who could give her insights that could help the mission.
Ronelle: Tiger and Jonas really filled out in this novel and their relationship took a gratifying, if expected, turn from barely civil allies to potential lovers. They work well together as comrades-in-arms while trying to track down the remaining children and on a more personal level, their chemistry is electric. I appreciated the lack of jealousy with Charles in the picture—for me, that would have been nothing but a frustrating distraction. Ms. Arthur clearly knows her story and what aspects were important and would move the plot along. Cat and Bear are also more developed and I grew to love them and appreciate their little personalities. Ms. Arthur has also penned some back-and-forth banter between her characters that made me laugh, roll my eyes, and just generally react in a way that only well-developed characters can.
Jen: I like Tiger ok. She is at her best when she is interacting with her ghost children. It shows the emotion she is supposed to be lacking and allows us to see the love she is capable of. The same goes for her determination to save the kidnapped kids. Unfortunately, her romantic entanglements left me cold. We’re getting the groundwork for a relationship with Jonas, but she is actively sleeping with another man for the entire book. And while Tiger and Jonas make baby steps here, it’s decidedly meh.
Ronelle: I did, sadly, find some aspects of Winter Halo to be disappointing. Some of the scenes (such as Tiger climbing the curtain wall and the erotic massage she gave Charles) felt as if they’d been copied-and-pasted from City of Light. Also like City of Light, there’s a significant amount of repeated phrases (smiles without a hint of humor, the ghosts excitement “stinging” Tiger’s senses, how it takes an hour to reach Carleen) and I got tired of that pretty quickly. I found some of the vocabulary choices to be off. For example, Tiger says “butt” almost as if she’s averse to more vulgar terms…this in a novel full of swearing, sex, and fairly explicit violence. That’s not a complaint, per say, just something I found a little odd.
As far as typos, I can’t speak to that on this one, as I listened to it being read as opposed to reading it myself. Things sounded good and Ms. Barron wasn’t stammering, hesitating, or stumbling over passages, so I’d hazard a guess that Ms. Arthur either did a good job on her own or had a good editor.
Jen: The book is most engaging when Tiger is being heroic and basically sacrificing herself over and over for her mission. Those were the times I cared about her and those were the scenes that made me want to keep reading. The world-building is interesting and I’m particularly fascinated by the ways Tig can manipulate her own body. I want to see her succeed.
Overall, I found this to be pretty on par with the first installment of the series. If you liked that one, you’d probably like this one too. But be prepared for the book to end before it feels like it’s supposed to. Not exactly a cliffhanger, but definitely in the middle of something. It felt like there should have been more.
Ronelle: Bottom line: I enjoyed Winter Halo as much as I enjoyed its predecessor. I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in the Outcast series. If you like a melding of genres, such as dystopian sci-fi, fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal elements, then I’d recommend you give this one a go!
Ronelle’s Rating: B
Jen’s Rating: B-
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Keri Arthur
Release Date: December 6, 2016