Book Review | Blood Winter

Blood Winter by Diana Pharaoh FrancisTitle: Blood Winter (Horngate Witches)

Author: Diana Pharaoh Francis

My Review:

Blood Winter, the fourth book in the Horngate Witches series by Diana Pharaoh Francis, takes an interesting turn by introducing a cult-like leader named Benjamin Sterling into the mix. All around Max and her friends, the world is falling apart. They feel it is their duty to protect the remaining humans and save other witches from being persecuted by Sterling. A mysterious dust with a mind of its own has its sights set on Horngate, and Max is willing to bet that it’s somehow connected to Benjamin Sterling.

Blood Winter is the last book I will be reading by Diana Pharaoh Francis. I felt it had the most potential of this particular series, but failed to reach reach it. As I was reading, I began to re-imagine the scenes in my head, seeing exactly where I would change things to make this an overall better story. This series is supposed to be set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world, but it has always felt very contained to Horngate and its immediate surroundings. I would have liked very much for Francis to broaden the scope and shone the impact the Guardians and demons are having all over the world, and not just in Missoula. In my mind, I am picturing only a small group of cities in epic ruin, while the rest of the world is calmly and unknowingly going about their business.

As with some of the previous books in the series, I had some concerns about the editing of the book. Once again, I felt there was far too much “telling” rather than “showing”; Francis doesn’t really allow for the reader to interpret things on his or her own–we are told exactly how things are. There were a few typos as well, but by now I have come to expect that in almost any book I read. In this case, though, there were a few more grammatical and punctuation errors than I normally encounter.

The Horngate Witches series definitely has a fan base, but I’m simply not a part of it. Max was a bit too rough around the edges, Alexander was kind of whiny, and there were too many secondary characters to keep up with. I even read these in pretty quick succession–which I almost never do with series–just so everything would stay fresh in my mind, but I was still drawing a blank as to who some of the characters were and what role they’d played in earlier books.

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.*


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including,, and

more by Jennifer »