Cover Image: The Winter Knight

The Winter Knight

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I really wanted to love this, but sadly it just fell short for me. The characters are all pretty great, and I loved the idea of a modern day Arthur retelling, but honestly, I just had no idea what was going on most of the time.
The story is a dual POV, following valkyrie Hildie and knight Wayne, as they attempt to solve some murders, but the two voices weren't very distinct from each other, which made it hard to follow. Both characters regularly get distracted by seemingly random side plots that never fully get explained, and neither really seemed to care much about the dead people either, so it all seemed a little pointless.
There were some really good bits in there, I loved Bert and Wayne's relationship, and how Hildie's dynamic with her mum was explored, but overall it just wasn't enough to give me a real interest in the very disjointed plot.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.

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I'm always on the lookout for Arthurian retellings, and this had such an intriguing summary I couldn't resist!

Myths can be rewritten. As Wayne learns when a mysterious force begins killing off modern knights. He must work with a Valkyrie, a monster, and a rune smith to stop it.

This was a really interesting twist on Arthurian legend! And there was a lot that I really liked about it! There was such a wonderfully diverse cast, with LGBTQIA representation as well as neurotypical representation. And the characters all felt really unique. The twists with the reborn knights was also really interesting and kept me engaged. There were a lot of reinterpretations that I found deeply fascinating. And the whole story was really character driven, which I adored.

But the world building felt really loose and untethered, and left me wanting more. The romance felt too quick for me, I wanted time taken to really explore Wayne and Bert's coming together, but it happens so close to the climax of the story, that it didn't really get the time I wanted. The pacing that was all over the place, and really lost steam for me in the middle. But once I got to the last quarter I was sucked back in!

Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for this ARC.

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I wanted to like this book so bad but I dnf'd it at 45%. I just couldn't slog through it any more. It felt so stiff and like it just didn't know how to flow through an actual narrative that kept interest or wove together details. Honestly I got big Ready Player One vibes from all the references and that's just not a convention that I like at ALL. Lists are not writing.

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I think the original idea of intertwining folklore and mythology into a contemporary setting is always intriguing, and I loved this particular concept. The murder investigation is played out nicely, however, I feel the cast of characters was a bit too large. I wish there was more depth added to Hildie or Wayne so I could've felt more of an attachment to them.

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"The Winter Knight" by Battis offers a fresh take on urban fantasy. The world-building is intriguing, blending magic and modernity. However, the narrative's momentum wavers, and character development lacks depth. Battis's creativity is evident, yet execution falls short in places. The book's potential is evident, but uneven storytelling may leave some readers wanting more coherence and engagement.

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Taking Arthurian legend and dropping it into a neurodiverse LGBTQIA+ modern day Vancouver shouldn't have worked as well as this did...

At times it's fairly slow-paced, and will throw a lot of information at you from Arthurian lore. However, this doesn't stop the characters being likeable... and so very unapologetically queer!

Overall, I liked the novel for the queer, neurodiverse, and modern take on the core of the Arthurian legend of finding your identity and place in life.

*Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC copy of this title.*

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The Winter Knight is a re-imagining of the Arthurian legend set in modern day Vancouver. The characters are reincarnations of the knights from myth (Wayne, Vera, Lance, Kai, etc) and work regular jobs, but have some memories from their past lives. The reincarnation of Mordred is murdered and the valkyrie, Hildie, investigates to solve the crime.

If you think this sounds a little weird, you'd be right. I decided to read this book because I loved the cover and I'm a fan of myth and folklore retellings. This was definitely the first Arthurian legend retelling in this way that I have encountered.

The good: I loved the representation! Two of the main characters are trans and "neuro-queer." As a psychologist, I particularly enjoyed the thoughts on autism and diagnosis, which got me thinking about those topics long after I finished the book. I enjoyed the relationship between Wayne and Bert, which was very cute. I thought Kai was cool and would have liked more from her POV. I liked the setting in Vancouver and thought that the premise was very unique.

The weird: In my opinion, the rest of the book. I just had a hard time with the premise of characters remembering that they are knights and solving the murder. Which is the whole book. After a while I was waiting for it to wrap up and realized that I didn't really know what was going on because I started to check out. Also, whyyyy is a valkyrie in Arthurian myth?

Overall, I thought this book was okay. It tried its best to pull off an ambitious premise and it just fell a little flat for me. 2.75 stars rounded up to 3. Thank you to ECW Press and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest review!

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I really enjoyed the author’s previous urban fantasy series OSI so when I saw that they were starting a new series playing with Arthurian legends then it was the perfect combination for me. And The Winter Knight didn’t let me down. It takes the things that I love about Urban Fantasy – modern settings, magic amongst the mundane and tweaks the myths into a shape that would suit such an environment. However it does work on its own merits – a reader could pick this up having little familiarity with any of the stories and still enjoy the plot. Secondly, the mystery was satisfying and I was keen to see how everything played out but for me the strongest points were Wayne and Hildie. Both are a mixture of outsider and insider to the society they move in and this provides interesting perspectives and conversations between the two. The pace for the most part is fast and full of adventure, however there were one or two sections which dragged a little, but I didn’t mind as it meant I got to spend more time with the characters I so enjoyed.

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I always like picking up books set in places I’ve been, so seeing an Arthurian thriller set in Vancouver was instantly compelling.

I love a good diverse cast of characters, and this book showing autism, queerness, and body diversity was a definite positive. Sometimes diversity feels like an author is trying a bit too hard to be diverse, like it’s less for authenticity and more for checking off a cute quirky box, but I’d say this is coming from a more genuine place and reflects well on the story.

I also think using the Arthurian myth as a base to tell a murder mystery that entangles this reincarnation of knights is a really unique angle for a legend that has been retold 9 ways to Sunday. The writing itself feels a little young for this type of book, I would have assumed it was YA if I wasn’t told otherwise, but that’s not necessarily a negative and more a personal preference.

I don’t think this is a particularly complex or layered retelling, and it may not hit with every adult reader looking for some genuine tying together of original myth and new fiction, but it’s definitely an enjoyable and unique story to mix things up.

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First of all a big thank you to Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

The blurb really drew me in on this one. As soon as I saw that it said a queer King Arthur and the knights of the round table I knew I had to give this one a go.

I really wanted to love this, and while it was good and I enjoyed it, it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. At times it was slow and I just couldn’t lose myself in the story. We also don’t get much info at the beginning so I spent most of the first part of the book confused.

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This is one of the most original Arthurian retelling I've ever read as it mixes genre and add something new to the ancient stories.
There's mystery, fantasy, and a gripping plot that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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An update on Arthurian legend set in modern day Vancouver. It alternates between Wayne, a reincarnation of Gawain, and Hilde, a Valkyrie. Hilde investigates after another knight is murdered at a party.

I really like the first couple chapters (up until and right after the first murder) but then I found it so slow. I think there was too much other stuff going on beside just the investigation. Maybe if it had only be through one narrator it would’ve been easier for me to follow.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Arthurian legends are reborn in this upbeat queer urban fantasy with a mystery at its heart
Recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I love genre mashups and Battis delivers in this Queer urban fantasy mystery. Anyone familiar with Arthurian legends will recognize and enjoy Battis' interpretation of them, though those without familiarity may miss some of the subtleties. The neurodiversity diversity representation was well done.

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An evocative urban fantasy set in modern-day Vancouver with fascinating world building. A thrilling detective story with a dark academic mise-en-scene. A wildly creative reimagining of Arthurian legend with queer and trans heroes. THE WINTER KNIGHT is all these things and more, and I could not put it down.

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Knights were always being retold. You spent your life remembering parts of that story, taking what you needed, forgiving yourself for the rest. Holding your past stories and realising that they did their best, that you were doing your best now. [loc. 3694]
The knights and monsters of Arthurian legend are 'myths stuck on repeat... stories that kept being told in different times and bodies'. In The Winter Knight, the old stories are playing out, with variations, in modern Vancouver. Wayne is an autistic college student; his best friend Kai is trans; Morgan Arcand is the Dean, and Wayne meets her assistant, Bert, at a party where Mo (short for Mordred) Penley, the university provost, is murdered. Hildie, a plus-size, asexual Valkyrie, is assigned to investigate the case, but her mother Grace isn't sure that Hildie can handle it. Especially when there's a second murder ...

This was a fun, high-octane, mostly fast-paced thriller -- some slightly repetitive world-building in the first few chapters -- with a cast skewed towards the queer, the neurodiverse, the outsiders. (Just because they're embodiments of myth doesn't stop them being all-too-human disasters.) It begins as a murder mystery with a decidedly YA ambience, but develops into a story about myths: about making and remaking stories, about breaking away from one's fate, about rejecting the role that society, or culture, or story imposes. Wayne, in particular, doesn't see himself as a knight: Bert (who has an axe under the couch) can't help seeing himself as a monster. The evolution of their relationship is one of the highlights of the novel.

There are a lot of cultural references, almost none of which I recognised (adding to my sense that this novel was aimed at a younger audience). I don't think understanding those references was important to the plot, but I'm sure it would have added to the ambience. (Nitpick: a character enjoys wine, especially 'East Anglian reds'. So.... not our world, then?) I felt the story was unevenly paced, and I'd have liked to see more of the older generation: Vera, Lance, Arthur, Vivian. And what about the wider world? Do knights recur only in Vancouver, or is it a global phenomenon? Overall, though, The Winter Knight was an entertaining read, with an original angle on the Arthurian myths, and especially the story of Gawain and the Green Knight.

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"Arthurian legends are reborn in this upbeat queer urban fantasy with a mystery at its heart.

The knights of the round table are alive in Vancouver, but when one winds up dead, it's clear the familiar stories have taken a left turn. Hildie, a Valkyrie and the investigator assigned to the case, wants to find the killer - and maybe figure her life out while she's at it. On her short list of suspects is Wayne, an autistic college student and the reincarnation of Sir Gawain, who these days is just trying to survive in a world that wasn't made for him. After finding himself at the scene of the crime, Wayne is pulled deeper into his medieval family history while trying to navigate a new relationship with the dean's charming assistant, Bert - who also happens to be a prime murder suspect. To figure out the truth, Wayne and Hildie have to connect with dangerous forces: fallen knights, tricky runesmiths, the Wyrd Sisters of Gastown. And a hungry beast that stalks Wayne's dreams.

The Winter Knight is a propulsive urban fairy tale and detective story with queer and trans heroes that asks what it means to be a myth, who gets to star in these tales, and ultimately, how we make our stories our own."

As you see, all things Arthurian! But this adds a little urban fantasy!

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"The Winter Knight" was a fun, engaging urban fantasy with wonderfully diverse characters and an overall upbeat tone. This book took a moment to get going (it's a little world-dumpy at the beginning), but once the frantic worldbuilding came to a rest I was invested in the world and the characters. Think of this as an adult "Legendborn", honestly - same kind of set-up, same loose interpretation of the original legends and medieval history. If you enjoy one, you'll likely enjoy the other.

My only real complaint was the pop culture references came a little fast for me. I love quips a lot as the next girl but some of the dialogue felt kinda Joss Whedon-y - you know what I mean? - and I will be thrilled when Harry Potter isn't mentioned in progressive literature. Ugh.

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I received an ARC of the book from the publisher, via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

BOY WAS THIS A HECKUVA RIDE?! This is a mind-blowing read that hits many of the right notes for reasons aplenty. Generally speaking, this is a novel about unpacking myths to reveal their continued relevance. However, its genius lies in how Jes does this while also showing that it is also about unraveling our personal histories and understanding that we are more than what had been prescribed to us, that we are agents of our own fate and that we can write our own stories. Honestly, it's so creatively and amazingly delivered that I am truly in awe.

The icing of the cake is of course it's constellation of very, very diverse characters, not just in terms of gender and sexuality, but also in terms of how people think and react to the world around us. Unlike many other books that make stabs at being inclusive, Jes' novel stands out as it is done so beautifully and with such sensitivity. It is written with with such sincerity that you can really tell that it informs the heart of her book such that this is in many ways, a very, very, current and relevant read.

On that note, because of how incredibly dynamic the characters are, this is a book that the art world would absolutely DEVOUR. No crumbs! Artists are going to have so much fun making fan art of the characters so on that front, I'm really surprised by how simple the cover is. In any case, it's not too late. WE JUST NEED A FAIRYLOOT EDITION OF THIS MASTERPIECE!

While I'm still not too sure how a whole generation of knights got reborn into Canada, I must say that this is a book that I will highly recommend for years to come. Altogether, it's brilliance made me want to revisit the Arthurian legends, just so I can read this book again and really, really dig in.

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