White Winter by D. J. Bodden Book Review

The Balance is everything. It is what enables vampires and werewolves and far stranger things to co-exist with ordinary people, after a fashion. But after Jonas thwarts an attempt by the Order to take control of the Agency, the supernatural law enforcement that maintains the Balance, it becomes clear that the Balance itself is in danger.


White Winter picks up immediately after the events of Black Fall. Jonas has graduated, after a fashion, by testing out of his training with the Agency. By which I mean that he created an ad hoc alliance of human vigilantes, vampires, and werewolves to rescue his mother from her oldest friend, who happened to be possessed by a demon.

But that means he now has to go out in the world, and deal with the many, many problems that arise when you are trying to keep supernaturals both secret, and in check. I was particularly haunted by a program of the Agency which dispatched Puppeteers, vampires especially skilled in manipulating many people at once, to Rust Belt towns fallen on hard times. The vampire eased the misery of those left behind by globalization, giving them purpose and hope again, for the price of a pint of blood each, once every two weeks.

Of course, the vampire cannot make the jobs come back. All they can do is provide a more or less pleasant illusion for a few years, until everyone has built up an immunity to the manipulation, and the vampire moves on the next town. I am a live not by lies kind of guy, so I naturally recoil against this kind of thing. And I appreciate Bodden’s portrait of this doomed small town, because not everyone is OK with the deal. And eventually, the reckoning comes due regardless.

This is an interesting sub-theme of the supernatural world of The Black Year series. Part of the attraction of not just vampirism, but also far worse things that you will meet in this book, is that it provides a way to cheat death, at least for a while. Yet, the reaper eventually comes for everyone. The debt of life must be paid, and unnatural long life is often purchased at a price more dear than life itself. Thus the reckoning, when it finally arrives, is harder than it would have been if nature had been allowed to take its course.

This is probably a little easier to see if you don’t find vampirism attractive, as I do not. When I was a teenager, my friends wanted to play the White Wolf RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. The whole point of that game was to be a vampire, but I simply never wanted to be a monster; I wanted to kill them. This was a bit of a sticking point. I’d rather indulge in power fantasies by playing Halo or Doom.

Yet even here, neither vampirism nor lycanthropy make you evil, per se. Although they certainly do present some rather fierce temptations. While some do choose their condition, many more do not, becoming supernatural through being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Thus, for Jonas and his friends, they must seek to do good and avoid evil despite the obstacles placed in their path. This is the core which makes this more than just another YA vampire story.

I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist.

My other book reviews | Reading Log

Other works by D. J. Bodden

Black Year series

Black Fall: Black Year book 1

The Illusionist series

Nomad Soul: The Illusionist book 1