I received a copy of the audiobook from the publisher, Monolith Books, in exchange for an honest review.
Ever Winter by Peter Hackshaw (Narrated by Dan Stevens)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars/
Genre: Dystopia, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi
Published: 9th Jan 2020 by Monolith Books, & 26th Jan 2021 by Podium Audio
Ever Winter is a great revenge story that starts slow, but engages with the gritty realism of its wintry post-apocalyptic dystopian setting.
I rarely pick up post-apocalyptic dystopian as my sub-genre of choice. In this case, I’ve to admit the narrator being Dan Stevens made a whole lot of difference. Fortunately, I was not disappointed in the least, both in the performance and quality of the story.
Ever Winter is a revenge story that is filled with brutality and violence, but also a lot of heart. Set in the future where perpetual winter covers the world, the story is mainly told from the perspective of a young man, Henry, who lived with his family in an igloo homestead on the ‘Lantic (which I take it to mean The Atlantic ocean completely frozen over). Based on what I could gather from the narrative, this cold spell has lasted for about 100 years and life was difficult and harsh in the vast cold landscape where food is scarce.
When I say this book was brutal, I meant it in every sense of the word. Right from the very first chapter, we saw our main protagonist and his father carving up the dead body of a man as meat for the family to consume as food. Hackshaw did not pull any punches in portraying the grim reality of what life would be in a frozen world. The author has also created a very believable post-apocalyptic setting from the way that language has evolved to the mannerisms of speech and words used by the surviving people who became the new generation . Items from the time before the world was frozen over were also referred to as ‘anteeks’. It was so paradoxical for while life seemed more primitive in this world, those items were considered as part of the old world even though it’s technologically more advanced.
Shortly into the story, it was revealed that there was a bigger community of people living elsewhere when a stranger suddenly appeared in Henry’s home; a stranger that heralded darker times to come for him and his family. I couldn’t really say much more without spoilers. What I could say was that I really enjoyed it even though it took me about a third of the story before I became engrossed. The book took its time in the beginning to introduce its key characters, which I’ve always appreciated as this will only make me feel more invested later.
There was a section leading towards the midway point of the book which had me on tenterhooks. One scene here had me squirming so badly even before what was implied actually happened, as the very thought of it was horrifying. I also didn’t expect the direction the narrative took after this part, and it started to become pretty darn fantastic. This marked the point where I found myself utterly hooked and invested in everything that was unfolding in the story. I have to stay vague so that it will not ruin the pleasant surprise that I felt at what transpired, and which eventually resulted in such an emotional beat for me at the end.
Now, as this is an audiobook review I have to talk about Dan Stevens’ narration. As I’ve mentioned above, his narration was the biggest draw for me to listen to this book as he is one of my favourites. For a very good reason, as his ability to voice characters and imbuing the right personality into them is one the best in the audiobook business (that he’s also an incredibly versatile actor is besides the point – ahem). The clarity of his enunciation made it so easy to listen and catch every single word. I could listen to that voice and accent all day, everyday. Hackshaw has written a great story with distinctive characters, and Stevens’ stellar and nimble performance on audio made it even better. One more thing to note is that the audiobook also has two bonus chapters, which was not in the Kindle edition.
I do believe fans of a good revenge story will enjoy Ever Winter, although one does need to contend with a slow burn in the beginning. It is also worth bearing in mind that there are some scenes in here which are unremittingly brutal and violent. The frozen post-apocalyptic dystopian setting is also not for everyone, but whether this is right up your alley or not, I do recommend checking it out.