Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees. Book review

DEMI-MONDE: WINTER by Rod Rees. Jo Fletcher Books £7.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

I don’t normally read science fiction, at least not nowadays. And I avoid books of many pages, preferring short stories and novellas. But Rod Rees is a friend and a regular at the Renegade Writers’ Group … and so I thought I best give it a go.

I’m rather pleased I did. The story arc is vast – there will be four books in the sequence – and complex. The events in Winter take place, mostly, in the world of the Demi-Monde, a virtual realm developed by the military to train its soldiers. In order to create an effective training regime, the Demi-Monde is populated with avatars of some of the nastiest people from history: Robespierre, Heydrich and Torquemada, for starters.

That’s the background. Into this world comes Ella, who is tasked with the job of finding the president’s daughter, trapped in this unreal-but-really dangerous place. Ella must infiltrate various factions and in doing do encounters Vanka – a truly likeable rogue. They team up and become embroiled in revolution and war. Bad enough, but certain of the Demi- Monde’s inhabitants are very much aware of these real-life characters – and of their value when it becomes time to confront the people in the real world.

This is Rees’ first published novel. It effectively utilises so many aspects from his life (he’s lived here, there and about everywhere in the world – our world, that is), and he expertly acquires and twists characters and events from our history, knitting them seamlessly into a vastness of intrigue. This is a longish book, that’s true. And there are times when I wish the protagonists stopped chatting and got on with their adventures. But it was an amazingly quick and enjoyable read. The book has a beautifully designed cover – and for those into the Internet-thingy, visit the website. It will keep you entertained for hours.

Volume two, Spring, is due out at the end of the year.