A Black Winter’s Night: (Holiday Spectacular Story #13)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.


“A Black Winter’s Night”
Chrissy Wissler

I commented on Chrissy Whissler’s “A Different Christmas Experience” a few days back. This story is more of the same—equally powerful, but in a different way. Rather than set in a more contemporary world, this one is a full-blooded western, complete with grit and cold and a fight for survival.

The introduction to “A Black Winter’s Night” says that the story is also set in a bigger world of stories, that Cowboy Cat is a series character, but that you can read it without having read any of the rest. I agree with that. And if you read the story as a standalone, I expect you will enjoy it—especially if you are fond of westerns from the perspective frontier women.

It’s kind of like Ian Fleming and James Bond, though. And by James Bond I don’t mean the movie version, but the book version, the guy who runs through the collection of stories that Fleming wrote in the 50s and 60s in which Bond was much more of a real spy than a one-man SEAL team. Fewer gizmos, more footwork, you know? You could read just one Bond book and be entertained, but to get the true flavor of what James Bond stood for you had to read more. Those stories originated from an important place. They were written in a period right after World War Two and just as the Cold War had ramped up. Bond’s very essence carried a particular point of view. He was part of the system, but he was a good person doing what needed to be done in a world that was growing more dangerous as time passed.

I’m thinking about James Bond this morning because for my money Cowboy Cat is who you would get if that original James Bond had been unfairly tarnished, turned into a woman, and then thrown out of the 00 section and then sent back into her time period. That’s not really enough to fully describe the situation, but it will do for now. Like Bond, Cowboy Cat is a pragmatic individual. She carries scars both inside and out. She is a seeker of justice, a woman who does what needs to be done, and woman who fully understands what it means to be independent on the frontier.

The frontier was a harsh place, but one where opportunity, as long as one stood up and took it anyway, often ran ahead of the rest of the world. In that way it was perhaps the most important place a woman like Cat—a good person doing things that needed to be done—could actually change the world around her.

In other words, there’s a lot going on here.

You should enjoy “A Black Winters Night” for what it is, a solid one-shot episode that carries a message as it entertains. But if you want to see Chrissy Whissler’s own inner James Bond at work, I’d suggest you search out the rest of her Cowboy Cat stories.

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