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  • Winter Dark

  • Audible's Thriller of the Year 2019
  • By: Alex Callister
  • Narrated by: Ell Potter
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (2,425 ratings)

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Winter Dark cover art

Winter Dark

By: Alex Callister
Narrated by: Ell Potter
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About Winter

Master hacker, highly intelligent, combat trained: Winter is a very modern spy. Worlds apart from the straitlaced characters created in the minds of Ian Fleming and John le Carré , Alex Callister's lead protagonist wouldn't dream of playing the part of the impeccable agent. However, despite her intimidating skillset, Winter is delightfully human and often prone to prioritizing her libido over her employer. Undeniably sexy and exceptionally accomplished, Winter is a true 21st-century heroine.

A thrilling performance from rising star Ell Potter

Introducing the Slashstorm website
Winter goes Russian
Meeting the Marquise (explicit)
Winter gets into the ring
  • Winter Dark
  • Introducing the Slashstorm website
  • Winter Dark
  • Winter goes Russian
  • Winter Dark
  • Meeting the Marquise (explicit)
  • Winter Dark
  • Winter gets into the ring

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A note to our listeners

She's terrifyingly quick-witted and intimidatingly sexy with a superhuman skillset: Winter is a woman to be reckoned with. Everyone on the Audible team was immediately drawn to Winter, and we didn’t hesitate in naming this our Thriller of the Year 2019. Alex Callister has perfectly captured today's mood, so cast aside all your current preconceptions of traditional spy novels because Winter Dark puts you right in the middle of a terrifying near-future world plagued by perverse online crime.

Ahead of the audiobook's release on 21st March, we put some of our thoughts on film.
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About the Narrator

Ell Potter is in her final year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). She has appeared in the school’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing Helena, and New England, playing Alice Berry. She is also a writer and comedian, and in 2018 took her two-woman show HOTTER to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it enjoyed a sellout run and was named an Evening Standard Best New Writing of 2018. It has since secured a transfer to the prestigious Soho Theatre. She has been entered for the 2019 Carleton Hobbs BBC radio drama competition. Ell has devoured audiobooks for as long as she can remember, growing up on Harry Potter and His Dark Materials during long car journeys. Winter Dark is her first audiobook.

Meet the author of Winter Dark

Alex Callister is the pseudonym of an industry expert on media, telecoms and internet stocks. She studied history at Oxford and the British School at Rome and was set for a career in academia until the beginning of the tech boom woke a lifelong interest in internet shares. Alex has spent her career visiting high security web hosting sites and speculating on what might go wrong. Winter Dark is her debut novel and the first in the Winter series.
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What listeners say about Winter Dark

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Winter in Spring Isn't Quite Thriller of the Year!

Okay so let's not worry too much about the odd idea that we can declare a book the Thriller of the Year 2019 before we've all chomped our way through our Easter Eggs! It's an odd idea but as Audible say they didn't hesitate to do it let's just go with it for now.

What they did promise though was a ' gripping, fast-paced ride through a disturbingly plausible technological future' and certainly they make good on some of that. This is fast-paced with plenty of action but working as I do in the IT industry I'm going to baulk a little at the 'disturbingly plausible' part. Although Audible are keen to differentiate Winter from Bond & co she is actually remarkably similar in many ways. She's just as joyously implausible, maybe lacking the refined charm but still entertaining, bold and full of spunky bravado. Similar to Artemis by Andy Weir WInter will appeal to many but annoy some as seeming as much like a teenage boy's caricature of a powerful female character as a truly genuine persona. The author gives very little background as to how this gorgeous, super-skilled martial arts fighter with insanely good computer hacking capabilities develops above and beyond being brought up in a tough boarding school . . . enough said! Hopefully, as the series progresses we'll get more of this.

Okay, so I still enjoyed it well enough, if you can short circuit the reality-check circuits in your brain this is a fun story and certainly some of the ways that Winter extricates herself from dangerous situations would genuinely make even Bond raise a Roger Moore eyebrow heavenwards. Ell Potter is a more than capable narrator with good changes of pace, tone and tempo and she carries this roller-coaster ride of a story with real aplomb.

So, overall, this is a fun piece of fiction if you are in the mood for the Audible equivalent of a popcorn action flick with lots of action and a hero with more sauce than HP! Is it a "thriller of the year"? Well, I suspect there will be quite a few other authors gritting their teeth over that one but the rest of us can enjoy it for what it is regardless!

114 people found this helpful

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AWFUL !

Complete drivel, the story is contrived and predictable, the characters are totally unbelievable. Like a teenage boys wet dream absolute rubbish, can't believe I finished it !!!

39 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 23-07-19

50 Shades of Sh*t

You need to check your I.Q. before and after listing to this 'novel' - it will certainly have made off with at least half of it by the end of the experience, if you can make it that far. The story got one star because 0 isn't an option. However, if you're fifteen years old and looking for something to fuel your wet dreams then this will be right up your alley.

Ell Potter deserves as many stars as I can give her for getting through EVERY SINGLE LINE without laughing.

N.B. Alex Callister: rolling out all of the tired tropes of toxic masculinity and merely paring them with a protagonist with boobs doesn't make them any less toxic.

Dignum Memoria. Audible/Amazon: Credit your readers with some literary discernment when you produce your next 'original'.

31 people found this helpful

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Move Over Reacher - There's a New Girl in Town!



I'm fairly new to audiobooks, but decided to try this Audible Exclusive. I'm delighted to say how much I loved Winter Dark, and the journey I was taken on with Ell Potter's excellent narration bringing it to life.

Winter is a vivid character with a daring, wild attitude - a heroine who breaks the stereotype of government spies and action heroes. I could almost picture her and and Jack Reacher meeting in a dark alley, knowing Winter would give him a run for his money. Winter is a woman of action, not emotional narrative, but there's hints of a fascinating underlying character who I imagine will be slowly revealed over the planned series. Fascinated to see what's behind the facade.

There was so much I loved as I went on Winter's journey, keeping me awake most of last night, the riveting action, steamier scenes and the subverting of Snow White stereotypes were all handled superbly. The insight into a scarily realistic, near future web world fascinated me. Alex Callister's handling of high tech, with her career expertise as noted on her author bio, definitely made me feel in safe hands.

The sharp writing was evocative, and I could see Winter hurling down ski slopes, hanging from rooftops, saving lives and the world, while showing the most wanted man in it how things are done.

Can't wait till the next in the series!  


30 people found this helpful

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Eye rolling in places...

Would have enjoyed this story a lot more if the main character wasn’t so absurdly perfect. The woman makes superheroes look pathetic... body of model, photographic memory, can code better than GCHQ, skis like an Olympian and so on and so forth... which, makes all her accomplishments far less impressive!

I would also say, this wet-dream of a character would be the first woman I’ve ever known to be so easily distracted by a handsome face! Seriously?!! Her laughable “libido” issues drag the book down from a lighthearted thriller to something much more eye rolling... maybe it’s one for the boys?

Well read for a first time reader... hopefully she’ll have something more substantial to read in the future!

If there is a sequel I might give it a go, but only because I think the author has potential. Less superheroes, less talking about libidos and more depth... then I’ll be back!

26 people found this helpful

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I can't believe this is a best seller!

This is a major piece of adolescent dross. The main character is a beautiful young women who is also a fantastic snowboarder and computer hacker. She is recruited into the secret service at 16 years old. She is also a martial arts expert. She is sexually aggressive and sexually ambivalent. She is totally unbelievable. At one stage she is drugged and sexually abused, She appears to take this in her stride with no problem whatsoever. The whole plot is totally ludicrous. Has it been written by a thirteen year old boy?
Don't waste your money!

25 people found this helpful

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Formulaic and simple-minded chic machismo.

If I wasn’t the sort who finds it hard to not follow a book to the end I would have ditched this after a few chapters. To find the action at all credible you first need to know nothing about encryption. Unfortunately that’s not me, so the endless use of CCTV references and hijacked satellite transmissions assume that all you have to do is tap a data stream and you have its information. Simpleminded rubbish. Also I have no tolerance for being told at the outset that the heroine’s IQ is off the charts and then sit through forty-odd chapters in which she demonstrates average intelligence at best. Frankly, ballocks. Infantile and clichéd.

25 people found this helpful

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Gripping and charming

You can’t help but fall for Winter’s unusual charm as we follow her adventures through a story of twists and turns. The exceptional narration is key to the ease with which I could follow the story - I was so unbelievably immersed in this other world. Escapism at its finest.

23 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I have nothing positive to say about this title. But 5 stars to Audible for allowing returns.

23 people found this helpful

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Didnt even finish it.

Totally unbelievable main character: outstandingly beautiful, extreme sports expert, knife fighting expert, gun fighting expert, extremely intelligent, multilingual, best hacker alive, blah, blah, blah. No doubt in future books Winter will scale Everest without oxygen and fly to the moon single handed. Yet she doesn't know how long it takes to get from France to Australia. Hmmm.
Couple that with a main plot that barely hangs together (no protective custody?) and rather naive writing ("I opened the door. I went up the stairs. I looked at my watch. I waited" <sigh>) made this the first audio book I've ever deleted.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Avila
  • 18-04-19

Self Indulgent

I regard myself as open minded but the explicit and gratuitous sex was irrelevant to the story. Why? The book reads or should I say sounds like a recording of a fantasy session with the author's therapist.

16 people found this helpful

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  • SophAnn
  • 28-03-19

Returned

It's not what I was looking for. I was hoping for more of a cyber-thriller, and though it had that aspect, it was very sexually graphic. I don't have an issue with that, but it's not what I was looking for so, I returned the book.

15 people found this helpful

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  • erik
  • 25-11-19

What a terrible book

It remined me of the stuff we used to write in high school where everyone took turns writing some lines. Some parts are so made up. I stopped when the main character travelled to Umbria, and there in the middle of Umbria, without a clue, sniffs a corpse lying under sacks of rotten food and thus finds a new lead. Ok, good luck with that.....

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica Cancino
  • 30-03-19

Amazing 👌

Loved the book. The narrator was fantastic and the story was truly engaging. can't wait to hear what's next.

5 people found this helpful

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  • jsnipes
  • 01-04-19

Started strong, then became nonsensical

Don’t get me wrong, I like those summer beach reads. I enjoy the old read it and toss it books. This book started strong and I wanted to prove the negative reviews wrong — that they just didn’t appreciate the “junk food” nature of this type of book. But alas. Half way through I couldn’t even pay attention anymore. It became stupid and nonsensical. There wasn’t even a story half way through. Just mental thoughts of the lead character. I think what messed this book up was that it was hyped up so intensely on the Audible cover page. I wanted to like it. And in the end I gave it 3 stars even though my hearts saying a 2 or even a 1.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Harper Curry
  • 31-03-19

A solid "No," from me

This book makes me thankful for Audible's return policy. It's an interesting concept but poorly executed.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dawn
  • 29-03-19

Ell Potter, narrator, Makes this story outstanding !

The story is gripping and features a badass queer woman ! Ell Potter does several accents and is easy to follow character to character . Her voice is smooth and adds dimension without being too breathy or distracting. I’d like to buy more books from this narrator ! I listen to 2-4 books per month .

3 people found this helpful

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  • Old n'tired
  • 15-09-19

Worked for me!

Unlike a few of the recent reviews I thought this book was well paced and consistent throughout. I didn’t skip any chapters or start paying at a higher rate, which is something I find myself doing about half the time.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Roadmaster
  • 27-04-19

Midnight Reader

Couldn’t get into story. It seamed to bounce between excessive word usage to explain the most unimportant, insignificant fact to torrid sex passages that ran on and on. It was to much of an effort to stay with the story and finally I had to put the book down. That is something I never do .

2 people found this helpful

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  • JMc
  • 12-04-19

Ell Potter’s performance... Brilliant!!!

The story itself was great and Ell Potter’s performance made this - hands down - the BEST audio book I’ve listen to yet.

2 people found this helpful