Shadows in the Wind, Book Two

Fiction - Thriller - General
150 Pages
Reviewed on 08/31/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

In Shadows in the Wind by McKinley Aspen, Kathryn Beck becomes involved in a perilous undercover mission for the organization Hope & Global Support (HGS). Tasked with dismantling a crime syndicate in Alaska, she forms uncertain friendships with her neighbors, Tom and Jessica, who later betray her. Imprisoned, Kathryn uncovers corruption within the profit-driven prison system, operated by the Paolucci family. Together with her friend Ashley, she plans an escape to thwart the schemes of the villain Jacquelyn Paolucci. During their mission, Kathryn discovers her unique powers and familial connections. However, the escape inadvertently allows Jacquelyn to escape as well. As Kathryn and her team reunite, they face a new threat posed by a cloud-like entity that took her father and now targets Tom's family. A tense and dangerous confrontation unfolds, leaving them facing an uncertain future.

Shadows in the Wind is the explosive second book in the urban fantasy Cogitatio series and McKinley Aspen does an exceptional job in keeping the tension rolling throughout the entire novel. I think what really stands out in Aspen's writing is the way every single scene involves both emotion and a plot-pushing element of suspense that is lost in most other contemporary fantasy books. For example, in a scene where Kathryn reunites with Scott in a prison visitation, she is so overcome with emotion that her response is physical and as readers, we can feel that moment intensely. But Aspen does not leave it at that and also has Scott hint at a plan and an implant that, in the hands of a less skilled author, would have been relegated to another protracted scene. Aspen wastes no time in this adrenaline-filled, fast-paced, and well-crafted story and it really pays off. As part of a series, the book drops a bombshell revelation that leads in the direction of book three but makes good on all the promises to readers and doesn't leave us hanging with loose ends from this book. Very highly recommended.

Pikasho Deka

Cogitatio: Shadows in the Wind is the sequel to McKinley Aspen's Praesidium and is the second book in the Shadows in the Wind series. Kathryn Bek has established herself as a vital member of the HGS, a secret organization that uses superpowered individuals to fight against threats to humanity all over the world. However, during her latest mission in Alaska, Kathryn finds herself framed for smuggling cocaine, which puts her in a private prison facility. Soon, Kathryn has first-hand experience of the dysfunctional justice system that sometimes puts innocent people behind bars. She forms close friendships with a few other women and is surprised to meet her fellow HGS member, Ashley Harrington, in prison. But after Raphael sends her a message about her Aunt Jacquelyn's nefarious plans, Kathryn and her friends must find a way to save innocent women from becoming victims of human trafficking.

This is one of those superhero stories that also sheds light on some vital social issues. Cogitatio is full of surprises, with an engaging plot that twists and turns to a resounding climax. McKinley Aspen uses an evenly-paced narrative and compelling character work to immerse you in the pages. One of the things I noticed and liked about Kathryn, the main protagonist, is that despite her plight, she refuses to let go of her humanity and is willing to give others second chances. The book ends on a cliffhanger that raises the stakes and nicely sets the premise for the next installment. If you enjoy superhero fiction or urban fantasy sagas, Cogitatio is the book for you.

Essien Asian

Kathryn Beck and her gifted team face a new assignment in their battle against the forces of evil. This time, Kathryn must infiltrate a quiet suburb, but she has no details on who her target is or what else is expected of her. Despite this obvious information blackout, she is certain her superiors may know more than they are letting on as a series of curious events begin to play out around her. Little does she know she is walking into the middle of a dicey chess game where family ties will determine if she can carry the day in McKinley Aspen's Cogitatio.

A covert team of superhuman-gifted individuals attempts to expose the corruption in a privately run facility, leading to interesting consequences. When your team of heroes is populated with individuals with curiously familiar names, you can be certain there will be more than the standard high-intensity activity on offer. Cogitatio is the latest installment of the Shadows In The Wind series by McKinley Aspen. The characters are reasonably well crafted; their origin stories are basic enough to get a reader across the line. Where there seem to be gaps in the storyline, Aspen uses the dialogue between the characters to complete the circle efficiently. The subplots include romance and some family-oriented drama, which she uses to great effect to create a story that, despite its roots in the regions of fantasy, maintains a solid grip on the realities the reader would find easy to identify with. The fight scenes are described in extensive detail, and the pace heightens as the story approaches its conclusion. Aspen deserves accolades for the even balance of drama and mystery that make up the delightful reading experience that is Cogitatio.

Tanja Jurkovic

Cogitatio: Shadows in the Wind, Book Two by McKinley Aspen is a tense novel that will glue readers to their seats. Just as Kathryn Beck again moved to a different town, in Alaska no less, to do a dangerous mission for the agency, she suddenly, and to her surprise, ends up in an Alaskan prison on the charge of dealing drugs and exploiting minors. Not having anyone around to turn to, and after realizing that her friendly next-door neighbor Tom might have something to do with this, she must challenge herself mentally and spiritually to endure harsh prison life. However, while inside, Kathryn soon forms alliances with her fellow inmates, and together, with a bit of help from Kathryn's colleagues, the incarcerated women put their plan into action to escape and overthrow the criminal justice system.

Packed with suspense and twists around every corner, this fantastic novel will pull a person inside the world of injustice and crime against the innocent, where the reader is rooting for the underdog and for justice to prevail. McKinley Aspen eloquently and with clarity describes the justice system and its faults as well as the world of crime and brings to life all the characters in the novel with ease and relatability. Because of Aspen's clear and straight-to-the-point writing style, Cogitatio can be read as a standalone story. The storytelling lures the reader into this dangerous world with characters as their only allies on a journey to fight for what is right.

Paul Zietsman

Shadows in the Wind: Cogitatio by McKinley Aspen follows the trials and tribulations of Kathryn Bek and her teammates from Hope & Global Support (HGS) as they endeavor to overcome the world's most heinous crimes. While on an undercover mission in Alaska, Kathryn is falsely accused of dealing and possessing cocaine, after which she is imprisoned. She learns more about the unfairness of the justice system when she is not allowed to state her case. When she and other prisoners are abruptly taken to a different prison in the early morning, she comes closer to learning what her undercover mission is about.

Cogitatio is an action-packed novel with vital elements of suspense and mystery. I was as surprised by the turns of events as the protagonist, Kathryn Bek, was, and it felt like I was included in guessing the outcome of events. What stood out about McKinley Aspen's novel is the very well-crafted action scenes that served in telling the story as opposed to simply being meaningless action scenes. The strong sense of camaraderie between the team members of HGS, their willingness to stick together, and their friendly chatter while fighting the bad guys evoke optimism and add to the general feel-good nature of McKinley Aspen's novel. Cogitatio is a quick page-turner, and I recommend it to lovers of thrillers, mystery, suspense, and action.