Review: 'Winter Games', by Kyell Gold
I hate stories that are so carefully constructed that a reviewer can hardly say anything about them without giving away spoilers. Well, Winter Games is set in Gold’s Forester Universe, although it is not connected to any of Gold’s other stories. It contains mentions of Millenport and other Forester locales. It is the fifth of FurPlanet’s “Cupcake” booklets, less than novel length.
Winter Games is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher's advisory)
Sierra Snowpaw, a 33-year-old snow leopard, checks into the Lonnegan Ski Resort, apparently just on a relaxed vacation although it soon becomes obvious that he is looking for someone. Sierra does not let the search distract him from having steamy gay sex with Bret, the resort’s pine marten desk clerk.
The novella alternates in short chapters between the 2012 “now” and 1997, when Sierra was a teenage student at Tartok Ecole Internationale in Europe, presumably setting up the explanation of whom Sierra is searching for and why, and why this person is avoiding him.
Read Winter Games to find out what is going on. As usual, Gold brings his anthropomorphic cast to convincing life, whether he is describing the arrogant or drunken skunk and jackrabbit business executives and their bitchy wives on a business retreat at the lodge, or the red fox and goat adult teachers and the overactively-hormoned adolescent students (hedgehog, coyote, other snow leopards and red foxes) at the Ecole. Gold is a master of keeping his story interesting by focusing upon colorful background details while v-e-r-y slowly advancing the mysterious plot.
Whoever wrote the rear cover blurb did not have it easy, either.
Sierra Snowpaw is just at the Lonnegan Ski Resort looking for a good time. You can trust him. If he doesn't talk a lot about his past, well, a lot of guys have done things they'd rather forget. A lot of guys have been through things they'd rather forget, too. ??He's so nice that it isn’t that weird when he asks about some of the other guests. Not like a cop, though, or a Fed—well, okay. Maybe a little like that one guy from that movie. Maybe he's off-duty, settling a score on his own time.?? Or maybe he's the guy on the run. Come to think of it, he looks around corners like someone's after him, too. But you know, some guys are chased by nothing more than the ghosts of their past...
WE expect to sell 350 copies of this great, grand book. It has gush and go to it, it has that Certain Something which makes you want to crawl through thirty miles of dense tropical jungle and bite somebody in the neck. … THIS BOOK IS THE PROUD PURPLE PENULTIMATE!!
Although in this case, you should crawl thirty miles through thick snowdrifts and have passionate sex with your victim.
For adults only or not, this is an extremely literate mystery. Not a murder mystery, maybe, but a real page-turner to keep you guessing at what is going on. The cover (original illustration) and interior art by Beth Sabretoothed Ermine are worth complimenting, too.