Book Review: “The Man Burned By Winter” by Pete Zacharias


I got this book as part of Amazon Firsts, where you get a free book a month or so before the main release. This is the first of a new series involving the protagonist and it may be one series that I continue to read.

The first thing to say about this book is that it dark and there were times where I struggled with the content – perhaps not as much as I did with “Doctor Glass” by Louise Worthington, but still a challenge at times, despite the situation and experiences of the protagonist being very different to my own (thank heavens). Perhaps if I’d been in a different mood over the past couple of weeks, I would have felt differently. Or perhaps reading the book also impacted how I was feeling – I doubt it, but I cannot ignore the possibility.

As usual with my reviews, I won’t say much about the plot itself – after all, you can get sufficient information about that from the book cover or the site from where you buy books. Rather, I will pick out a few lines that stood out for me – though perhaps not saying much about why.

For example,

Not that there were many things he needed to be awake for. Each morning, he woke up with a dull flame in his heart, resenting death for not having taken him in the middle of the night.

This quote should give you a good insight into how dark the protagonist can be. As you can also see with the following quote,

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if I can.” His heart jackhammered. His voice nearly broke. There was a runaway freight train throbbing between his temples.

I also liked the following description of ‘hope’

He heard hope in her voice laced with a bit of excitement. He knew hope was a drug. Once it’s taken away, it’s damn near impossible to feel that high again.

The following line – using a quote from another book – also helped show how the protagonist’s character is grounded in more universal emotions, despite the unique (I hope) situation that has experienced,

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’ Don’t know many quotes, but that one—Oscar Wilde—stuck with me

Reading this made me think about how I like to include quotes from books in my reviews and also many quotes make it into my academic writing, but I cannot think there are many lines that I would be able to include in everyday conversation. This Oscar Wilde one may stick with me, but it’s more likely that I would still use a line from Jaws.

Perhaps the line that resonated with me most however was

his mind was a mouse trapped in a maze; he didn’t know what to think or where to go.

I had been writing something similar to this in the notes for my next novel, so I found the words particularly powerful.

One final quote…

“I think there’s crazy in all of us. It’s just a matter of if we suppress it or if we embrace it.”

This is the sort of thing I could imagine being said in a movie. Indeed, as the book went on, the storyline became more movie-like, reminding me of some of the ones I saw during the early 90’s. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and by that stage I was not concerned if the believability had begun to be stretched (I have written before about this issue – see “Truth” in Fiction – Pillars and Cantilevers). The only other thing that I would say about the book is that it had quite a lot of names in it and, as I have discussed before, I struggle to remember names. Often this is not a problem, but in this case it may have ruined a particular aspect of the storyline for me in a way that many other readers may experience a different reaction (and the one that the author was looking for). I wonder whether there’s a way that books can be written to help people like me.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and will be interested to see how the series develops.

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