I didn't care for this one. The first book, The Summer Country, held my interest well enough for me to seek out this sequel, but The Winter Oak didn't really get very interesting until the last few chapters of the book. I doubt I'll try any more of Hetley's work.
Full of rich prose (as well as R-rated dialogue), this sequel to the critically acclaimed The Summer Country (2002) confirms that Hetley has created that rarest of gems: a Celtic fantasy worth reading. There's nothing fluffy about this fairy tale—which is appropriate, since the original Celtic legends it's based on were just as bloody and cynical. Hetley skillfully weaves in threads of exposition in a plot that at first focuses on the recovery of the witch-sisters Jo and Maureen from their battles against the Old Ones. Jo leaves the land of the Summer Country and returns to the world of men, where she confronts her abusive father, while her lover, David, attempts to put their experiences to music, pay the bills and fend off curious police. Maureen's partner, Brian (aka Arthur Pendragon), tries to pull her out of bitter alcoholism as he explores the castle they conquered and she befriends the local forest. After a storm of double-crosses and revelations clears away, the sunny conclusion full of love-conquers-all sentimentality is somewhat cloying, but the happy ending doesn't come free: these good guys put up a tough fight and deserve to win. Fans of "realistic fantasy" authors like Charles de Lint and George R.R. Martin will particularly enjoy sinking their teeth into this gritty and entertaining story.
I just loved this book - it was an awesome continuation of "The Summer Country"
This book follows Hetley's urban classic THE SUMMER COUNTRY, and even imporves on it.
From back cover:
In the realm known as the Summer Country--the violent land of blood and magic where myth and legend are all too real--Maureen Pierce has claimed her place among the powerful. But her many scars have yet to heal. She struggles to come to terms with her tragic life, while trying to find some way to allow the warrior Brian Albion into her heart. Her sister, Jo, still lives in the world of men--fighting the demons that have haunted her own nightmares.
But the sisters' unresolved fear and anger are about to be turned against them--as Fiona, the dark witch whom they vanquished together, seeks revenge. And she has allie herself with the dread dragon Khe'sha. Now, the only chance they have is to overcome the pain that has cursed their entire lives and face sinister forces bent on their destruction.