Cover Image: The Winter Knight

The Winter Knight

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Member Reviews

Book Review - The Winter Knight


Thank you so much to @netgalley @ecwpress and Jes Battis for providing me with a copy to review.

This book is a modern, and queer, retelling of Arthurian tales. I must admit that if I was to go back, I would do an little bit of reading on Arthurian Legends. I think that even a read of a Wikipedia page would have contributed to understanding a lot of references and just having a better understanding of what is going on.

I enjoyed our MC's, Wayne and Hildie, a lot. And I loved their love interests too. Plus Wayne's best friend is a treat! There is a fun and diverse cast of characters explored.

My main concerns can be resolved with some back reading and, maybe serious murder mystery readers do this, but probably using a mindmap or even a photoboard with red string running across it to figure out the villain 😅. If that is your jam then this is for you.

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The Winter Knight is a unique and creative story. The author has imagined a world where the Knights of the Round Table, King Arthur, Guinevere, Morgan le Fay, etc., as well as lesser knights, are continuously reborn, with memories of their past lives, and displaying some aspects of their mythological selves. The Valkyries exist, and they can sense death but no longer choose who lives and dies. Rather, they are investigators. The three fates are present, running a secret hotel which is a sanctuary of sorts for mythological figures. In addition to knights and Valkyries, there are runesmiths.

If that was not enough, the author incorporates queer and neurodivergent characters. Hilde, one of the main Valkyries in the story, is bisexual. Kai, a young runesmith who plays a prominent role, is transgender, and also does an excellent job of melding ancient beliefs and practices with modern technology (computer coding). Wayne, the latest incarnation of Gawain, is on the autism spectrum and is also gay.

At the heart of the story is the quest to find oneself and figure out who you are, who you’re meant to be, and to accept yourself.

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DNF @ 20%

A retelling in modern day Vancouver that dumps so much information in retelling, but not enough to establish itself in its own right with characters we want to care about.

The writing in this is well done and atmospheric in the ways in which the words are used.

However, the world building and pacing are too slow for me to continue to have interest. Although the characters are interesting in this Arthurian retelling way, I didn't feel connected enough to them or whodunit to continue reading.

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Ahhhhh! This is the mashing together of so many of my favorite things! I'm so excited to see stories like this now available and thank you to the publisher for the DRC. Queer rep, neurodivergence rep meets urban fantasy and Arthurian retellings is something the world needs more of and this was an enjoyable read.

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The Winter Knight is an engaging and upbeat urban fantasy that I couldn’t help but get sucked into!

Tying familiar Arthurian legends into urban fantasy, this book was a very fresh and different read for me! The worldbuilding and relationship with legends was very interesting to me and I enjoyed seeing how the characters fit into an urban setting! At its core, it’s a story about characters caught in a cycle, and how they respond when things go awry! Some of the more mystery/detective bits went over my head a little bit, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story at all!! I can’t speak for other readers, but every turn this story took was a surprise to me, and I was fairly satisfied with the overall execution and ending!

I absolutely adored how unapologetically queer this story was, and it was so amazing to see so many meaningful discussions and reflections on sexuality (or lack of) on page! I think the thing that resonated with me the most, however, was the portrayal of autism! I saw myself so much in Wayne and all of his little habits and likes and dislikes and fears, and seeing some of my own thoughts put into words was really special! I will definitely be thinking about this story for a long time because of that!

I will just tack on a note here that this story is a bit heavy on pop culture references. For the most part, it didn’t bother me (save for the one HP reference, which is usually an auto-DNF for me), but I do know that there are a lot of readers who aren’t fans of pop culture-heavy stories, so I’m just adding that here!

Overall, I loved this book a lot, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends!

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Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me, I liked the premise and really wanted to like the story but I wasn’t able to get into it or connect with either of the main characters

The world itself was interesting, but I had trouble with the characters and with the pacing of the story, I made it halfway through but didn’t end up finishing

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Thank you NetGalley and ECW Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fantastic queer retelling of the King Arthur legend! It’s part fantasy, part murder mystery, and wholly engaging throughout.

I really loved this concept and I was hooked from the start, though Hildie did take me a lot longer to warm to than Wayne, whom I loved immediately.

There’s so many beautiful relationships in this book, some familial, some friendship, and some romantic. There’s such a big found family vibe here, as well as loads of messages about being enough and being able to choose your own path despite what fate says.

I loved the representation, too. There’s such a wide variety of queer characters, as well as mental illness, physical disability and neurodivergence, and every single aspect is treated with the respect and care it deserves.

There were some parts of this book that I will admit to finding a little confusing, though. Parts of the lore and magic that I wish had been explained better. But overall, this is a thrilling, beautiful book!

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As urban fantasy, The Winter Knight is particularly good at highlighting underappreciated perspectives: we have an autistic lead, a fat lead, both are queer, a mjaor transfem character, and even the setting of Vancouver feels like a nice change. Wayne's story in particular feels like it all comes together around questions of family, queerness, and neurodivergence. That being said, I am a little struck by strange choices in worldbuilding: the idea of reincarnating Arthurian figures is definitely fun, but I felt like I got through the whole book without understanding some real fundamental aspects of how it worked, which made it hard to buy into. I also struggle to understand who it is pitched at: it has very niche medieval references for the casual reader, but then there are various inaccuracies from an academic perspective. And I just don't know that this Arthurian tale needed to throw in valkyries, runes, and other Norse/Anglo-Saxon things - this probably added to Hildie's half of the book feeling a little off. A fine read, with some good representation, but a bit of a headscratcher.

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I loved so many aspects of this book! An adventurous mystery with modern knights, with the opening scenes that mention classical music to the recurring fox theme, this story is whimsical and fun. I appreciated the diversity of characters including well done autistic, trans, queer, and poly rep.

While I enjoyed the beginning and the end of the book quite a lot, I found that it lost my attention for a while in the middle. I couldn’t manage to absorb myself in it the way I would’ve liked to. However, it had enough positive aspects to keep me reading to the end, and overall I liked it!

Thank you to NetGalley, ECW Press, and Jes Battis for the digital ARC!,

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Winter Knight is a fun take on the legends of King Arthur and his knights, with a dash of other mythology along the way. Set in Vancouver, the story follows the typical Urban Fantasy premise of bringing characters of folklore into the modern setting.

The plot was a little clunky and it took me a little while to settle into the story. However the characters felt in the main fleshed out, with strong representation (queer and trans characters).

Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy to review.

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Hildie is a Valkyrie, working to solve a murder as she investigates the newest incarnations of Arthurian legends, Wayne is one of those incarnations, of the knight Gawain. We follow both of them as they do their best to live in the world they were born into past and present.

A queer book about the Arthurian legend is something that I should have loved. And I did at first think I was going to have a new favorite book, Hildie is a plus size, (probably?) ace protagonist and Wayne and his best friend Kai are also queer. Wayne is also neurodivergent. I was incredibly excited to read about Hildie since plus sized protagonists aren't incredibly common.

I made it about a third of the way through, but I just could not take the pop culture references. Every time I came across one it yanked me fully out of the story whether I knew what was being referenced or not. If I didn't know it, I spent time debating if I should look it up. The story was compelling and doing a good job of mixing present day with the past without the references and vague pop culture nods would have not been as detrimental as the incredibly specific ones used. I kept trying to push myself to finish this book, I'd stop and then later think "Oh the references weren't so bad." so I'd start it again and be hit by yet another reference to Hayley Kiyoko, Euphoria, Sesame Street, Discord, etc. and in the end I decided I wasn't going to be able to finish this book.

The book has potential and if you're someone who isn't bothered by pop culture references then this may be a great queer fantasy for you.

Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Press for making this available in exchange for an honest review!

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Thanks to Netgalley and ECW Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Honestly! This was a delight! It took me ages to get into it, because the cultural references hit me with a cringe like you get with playing video games that are going to be dated in like five years. But once I got past that cringe, I was constantly delighted.

The last 30% especially was such a fun read. It was like the author had eased into the prose, and I had to pause at multiple points to yell about bits of writing!! It was also a solid conclusion — I don't think that it was a great mystery, but it's good if you want modern arthuriana and characters being trapped by fates. Anyway, had a very nice and solid time once I properly got into it!

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The Winter Knight is an Urban Fantasy, set in a modern day Vancouver populated by reincarnated Arthurian knights, runesmiths and Valkyries.

Hildie is a Valkyrie tasked with investigating the murder of one of the knights. Wayne is a college student and the reincarnation of the knight Gawain, who finds himself as one of Hildie’s suspects. Both of them are on a journey to discover more about themselves.

I really liked the idea behind this story, as I’m a big fan of urban fantasy, but I didn’t feel that the premise was as well realised as it could have been. I thought the representation in the book was great, but also felt that some of the characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. Overall, I loved the idea of this novel, but I didn’t really fall in love with it.

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I enjoyed this book a lot. It wound a variety of myths and legends in together into this a contemporary environment, with both sensitivity, entertainment, and a mystery that mostly kept me intrigued. I did often find myself pulling away or making notes to follow up on researching more about the various characters in mythology, especially some of the Arthurian characters that I was less aware of, which was both a boon and at times a hazard to the mystery part. Others with more knowledge and/or less easily distracted may not have this issue!

Somewhat relatedly, I would like to have had a reading list at the end of some of the books the author had read or was inspired by, as I definitely wanted a deep dive after!

I especially found the reincarnation aspect intriguing, as I liked how the characters combined past memories with unawareness, and the way the notion of free will vs constraints to the myths played out. I did feel this part could have been developed even further though, as I found it more and more interesting as the book unrolled.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free ARC*

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A very different fantasy book, set in modern day Vancouver, with reincarnated Arthurian knights and Valkyries. We follow Hildie, a reluctant Valkyrie, as she investigates the gruesome murder of a knight. We also follow Wayne, the latest version of Sir Gawain, as he tries to navigate this present life as an autistic college student. I find the writing very atmospheric. The threads can be challenging to follow sometimes. The cast of characters is quite large. It does help if one is somewhat familiar with the Arthurian stories. But in the end, they all come together nicely. At its heart, this book is a murder mystery with a veil of myth and magic.
**Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC for an honest review!**

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Unfortunately I didn't make it all the way through this due to concussion like symptoms. Super bummed about it and will be looking forward to purchasing once released.

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The Winter Knight is a fun blend of Arthurian legends and urban fantasy. While it wasn’t to my taste, it was well-written and I can appreciate it for what it is.

As far as the characters go, I found Hildie’s chapters the most interesting. Something about her really rang true, and I’d definitely read a sequel featuring her. As for Wayne, the other lead character… as someone with ASD myself, I appreciate seeing an autistic character at the centre of their own storyline, rather than being a prop or a plot device for their friends and family.

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I really loved the unique concept of this book and the fun modern twist on the Arthurian legends.
However much I liked the idea of this book though I could just never find myself connecting to this story. I think it was a mix of both the characters and the constantly twisting story that at times felt a bit jumbled. This had great representation and I think there will be a lot of people that will love this but for me, the writing style just didn't work.

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Wayne is a reincarnated Knight; a myth destined to stumble its way through history again and again, recreating itself in new ways. He doesn't feel as though he's connected to a grand tradition. In fact, between his undiagnosed neurodivergence and his complicated home life, he doesn't feel connected to much of anything. Except his best friend, of course. They find themselves at the heart of an investigation into the murder of another prominent myth, which the Valkyrie's are investigating. But Wayne also has his eye on another student, one he met the night of the murder. Is it a bad idea to start trusting someone new when anyone could be a suspect? Probably. But when else will he get a chance like this?

This book is a diverse, chaotic, rollercoaster of a book that takes a great deal of delight in its own potential. Primarily a case-investigation on Hildie's side, Wayne and Kai spend their time exploring how magic works in this world of echoing stories. It's a fun book with some very creative world-building - swords in mirrors! Yes! - but I often found the pace of the investigation itself dragged its feet. Wayne's side of the story has a great pace, and I really connected with his character, but the contrast between him and Hildie is stark. Hildie is the surly, sarcastic, noiresque antihero, who somehow makes headway without making any real connections to other characters (her 'it's complicated' aside).

Overall, I had fun with this book. As a fan of Arthurian retellings, it hit a great spot. I loved the idea of them as 'myths' reincarnating, and enjoyed trying to puzzle out the mystery.

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Thank you NetGalley!

I love Arthur legends, I love magic. I love fantasy. This book was a mixture of all these things. Such an enjoyable read!

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