Fun fact about me? I hate the smell of vanilla. It makes me gag. The one and only time in my life where I consumed a tad too much to drink involved vanilla flavored vodka. Despite that being over a decade ago, the smell still sends me running*. In this particular novel, the variety of killing and torture is prolific and creative, but the only scene that turned my stomach a little was one involving vanilla extract in a pantry.
That being said, The Winter Family, a gang of mismatched men headed by the one and only Augustus Winters, spans from the civil war to 1900. It’s only natural that there are a lot of casualties. Kind of. Augustus Winters likes to be cruel. He’s cold (with a rather fitting name), tough, and calculating – and he enjoys that. From Georgia to Chicago to Canada to California, the novel follows this despicable band of mercenaries as they move from one disaster – they’ve caused – to the next.
It’s quite possible that the bodies pile up faster than the pages in this one, but don’t let that put you off. It’s also a stellar, well-plotted tale of brutality and lawlessness during a time when the world was incredibly brutal and lawless. There are no heroes here, nor any anti-heroes, it’s just the story of ruthless men justifying their actions however they need to to make it through the day. If a historical western noir with more than a few bodies and bloody good writing** sounds appealing, get this one immediately.
(Also, that cover! Right?)
How do you follow up a brutal read? Do you read something a bit lighter after? Sometimes I need to and sometimes I just jump right back in.
Pair this one with Vanilla Sugar Cookies (from My Life as a Mrs.). You may need something sweet to take off the bitter edge of despair. I haven’t personally tried these, primarily for the reason listed above, but they look good, right?
*Barely an exaggeration.
**Sorry, I couldn’t help it.