So, after finishing Endless Knight, I rushed off and bought Dead of Winter to continue devouring the series. I had to know what happened between Evie and Death! What would she do? Would she allow him to coerce her? Would he go through with it? I had to know. Well, I certainly found out.
Unlike the connection between Poison Princess and Endless Knight, there is a gap of several days between the end of Endless Knight and the beginning of Dead of Winter, and we don't immediately find out what happened between Evie and Death--though we can gather that, because Evie's riding off to join her alliance alone, it didn't go too well. She arrives at the newly-built Fort Arcana to find Selena and Finn severely injured, Matthew crazy as ever, and Joules' alliance also in residence. She immediately sets about planning for how to rescue Jack from the camp of the Army of the Southeast. The army, as we learned last time, is led by Vincent and Violet, otherwise known as the Lovers, the Duke and Duchess most perverse--our newest cards. The Archpriestess is also nearby, waiting to pull people down to the depths of a newly-formed river, and poses her own problems. Still, Evie embarks on the rescue mission, and they (of course) get Jack back...just in time for Death to show up in pursuit of Evie. And this is where the love triangle gets intense.
Oh boy. I was going to count Endless Knight for my "love triangle" book for the Popsugar reading challenge, but I feel like it needs to be counted in conjunction with Dead of Winter because it's so much more intense in this one. Death and Jack have to work together, or it's predicted that Evie will die. To make matters worse, Vincent and Violet kidnap Selena, and they have to rescue her. The twins are the main enemy for this book, and the group spends most of the story trying to reach them. Along the way, Death and Jack snipe for Evie's attention, because she's agreed to choose one of them when they get back to base. The other one will leave her alone. You can imagine how well this goes, and you can imagine even more when Evie's interactions are heavily weighted toward Jack, with a single one-on-one interaction with Death on the other side. Which was terribly, terribly disappointing, because Death is such a better character than Jack is.
Again, the pacing in this one is intense--one thing after another after another, which makes it a very fast read. I tore through it in just a couple of hours, and I feel the quality was much better than the first two books, because the character development is infinitely better. We get to see Jack and Death actually grow as characters, something that they--particularly Jack--had been severely lacking until now. Finally seeing some of this is great, and it made the conflict between Evie and Jack and Death more real...though Death is still better. I'm totally Team Death on that one. He's just so much better in pretty much every way.
And again, this one ends in a cliffhanger, with the emergence of a new card and a new crisis. I'm very upset that the next one isn't out yet, because this new card--the Emperor--is hinted to be Evie's arch-nemesis in the series, and I just can't wait to see how this one pans out.
4.5 stars out of 5, because Jack is seriously still a contender? Seriously?