Shield of Winter
Author: Nalini Singh
Publish Date: 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changeling, book 13
I love Nalini Singh’s books, but lately her Psy/Changeling series just hasn’t been doing it for me. Partly its because she’s spending a lot of time focusing on the Psy characters instead of the changelings. Mostly though, it’s the over-abundance of character cameos and point-of-view switching has been dragging down the pacing on these novels. Like the 10th book in the series (Kiss of Snow), Shield of Winter has a pretty ambitious main plot, but it suffers from the inclusion of too many extraneous details that bogs the story down. This didn’t hurt my enjoyment as much in Kiss of Snow because the central characters that were focused on had been built-up over the course of the series. By the time you got to that book you were already emotionally invested and wanted to see them succeed. Shield of Winter did not have that same luxury.
In Shield of Winter, Ivy and Vasic are brought in to handle the mass outbreaks of infection among the Psy race. These outbreaks turn masses of Psy into mindless killers, with a zero percent recovery rate for the infected. This plot alone would’ve been more than enough to carry the entire book by focusing on the group who was brought in to cure the infection.
Instead of focusing primarily on these people, Singh dedicated a lot of page time to following characters from previous books and what they were up to. I think she was trying to show how those characters were affected by what was going on, but it came at the expense of tension. These characters weren’t at ground zero like everyone else, so it dragged down the momentum. Things got a little better when Singh brought Sascha (Slave to Sensation) directly into an outbreak but that didn’t last long. Honestly, I think the story would’ve been tighter and more engaging if the chapters featuring main characters from past books had been written out.
What also slowed the story down for me was the addition of a side story involving Vasic’s gauntlet. The gauntlet is a technological device grafted to his skin that is malfunctioning throughout the book. Essentially, it’s putting a time limit on his life expectancy. So, during the outbreak they were also working on how to fix the device without killing him. Typically I wouldn’t have had an issue with a side-plot like this, but the main story is so ambitious that it’s inclusion didn’t work. In fact, towards the end of the novel the outbreak story gets wrapped-up (rather anti-climatically) and the last few chapters are dedicated to trying to solve the gauntlet issue. This caused things to feel off-balance and the remaining few pages to drag as we did some clean-up on other story threads.
Overall, this was an ok addition to the series. I always enjoy Singh’s writing style, world, and characters. However, the pacing and sheer size of the plot in this book did not work for me. I would recommend this mainly to people who are huge fans of the series. If you’re new to these books, I would suggest beginning with the early titles instead.