Crash Course | Impact Winter

Matt Fowler
Fantasy Horror
Fantasy Horror
Presented by

If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic thrillers and heart-stopping vampire tales then you’ve hit the jackpot. The Audible Original series Impact Winter is back for a second season, returning us to a cold, harsh Earth devastated by a cataclysmic comet impact. With the sun blotted out and a frosty darkness enveloping the entire globe, the few human survivors have been pushed indoors while the outside world is lorded over by once-dormant vampires, which now freely roam across the lethal landscape.

With an exemplary ensemble cast bringing you into the story, and a dangerous new ice age steeped in both science and myth, Impact Winter is poised to be your next Game of Thrones-style addiction, filled with terrifying twists and turns. Writer Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim, Carnival Row) sets the stage with a legendary showdown for the fate of the planet – and listeners will be hanging on every word.

Darcy, as seen in the Audible Original Impact Winter trailer for Season 1

Let’s dig into the world of Impact Winter, with all of its frostbitten fanged ferocity, and get you prepped before Season 2 premieres on July 13.

Warning: The following contains some spoilers for Impact Winter Season 1…

The Sisters

Impact Winter revolves around the adventures of Darcy and Hope Dunraven, two sisters of the apocalypse who were but children when the comet struck. Now, almost a decade into the sunless, vampiric dystopia, the Dunraven sisters have experienced different lives.

Older sister Darcy immediately assigned herself the role of protector after their mother perished early on. Trained in combat by their mom’s then-boyfriend, Jepson Belgrave, who took on a surrogate father role following the disaster, Darcy closed off her emotions and became a leader of their community and a formidable vampire slayer – being the only person among their bunker to have experienced a fabled “Overlord” (more on these nasties later…).

Younger sister Hope, on the other hand, grew up sheltered within the confines of the bunker, stuck in a routine and, eventually, longing to be free. She even cooks up ideas as insane as becoming a vampire herself just so she can freely walk about outside without fear. Hope’s restless nature clashes with Darcy’s need for safety and security, and Jepson is often left to mediate.

The Vampires

The comet strike created a paradise on Earth…for bloodsucking fiends. They were relegated to the shadows for centuries and now, with the permanent frost, they are able to run roughshod over the entire surface of the world.

A mysterious vampire, as seen in the Audible Original Impact Winter trailer for Season 1

There are three known types of vampires in the world of Impact Winter:

Blighters are savage and beastly. They’re monstrous-looking and mostly mindless, easily falling under the control of more powerful vampires in order to be used as soldiers. They’re the most common vampire seen, and the easiest to defeat (though it’s still a tricky task).

Shades are vampires who are able to look human. They’re a step up in intelligence from Blighters, capable of using their human camouflage for deception and traps. Many pose as children or grieving mothers in order to lure unsuspecting victims into nasty blood-draining ambushes.

The third kind of vampire are so rarely seen that some think they’re just part of rumors and fables. Overlords are very old, supremely-smart, human-presenting vampires who possess mind powers, the gift/curse of being able to create other vampires, and shape-shifting abilities (like becoming lions and wolves).

The Impact(ed) World

The Earth as we know it is a cruel memory. Warmth, sunshine, being able to frolic outdoors without being torn limb from limb – those creature comforts are gone. All that exists now is the (dis)comfort of actual creatures, ones who must consume blood to survive.

The world has descended into a frozen hellscape, thanks to the absence of sunlight and an atmospheric cataclysm, but the nightmares that have emerged from the depths in the aftermath fly in the face of all science and reason. And even within the ranks of the vampires, there’s discord and dissent. They have their own beliefs, their own prophecies. One in particular foretells an “anointed one,” called the Winter Childe, who holds the power to kill the Queen and potentially end the forever freeze.

Yes, not all vampires crave supreme sovereignty and to have humans as their cattle. There’s a divide amongst the ancient ones, with some following the oldest vampire of all time, the Queen, and others looking to topple her and save the world from permanent hell.

The Comic

For those looking to delve even deeper into the Impact Winter story, there’s a one-shot comic based on the Audible Original series, and written by series creator Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim, Carnival Row), which features many of the characters from the gripping Audible Original, as well as the first appearance of an important character that has not been introduced in Season 1 of the audio series.

Darcy and Rook, as seen in the Skybound comic Impact Winter

With art by Stephen Green (Hellboy and the BPRD) and colorist Matt Hollingsworth (Batman: White Knight, Little Bird), Impact Winter #1 is a 40-page extra-length issue that takes place several years before Season 1 of the Audible Original series. The story showcases a younger Darcy as she first comes face to face with the true horrors of the new world.

A second one-shot comic is on the way so look for that in the upcoming weeks.

The Cast

A stellar story is all-important, but Impact Winter also needs awesome voice acting to bring it to life. Headlined by Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, Strike) as Darcy and Esme Creed-Miles (The Legend of Vox Machina) as Hope, it also features Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) as Jepsen and The Last of Us star (and another Game of Thrones-er) Bella Ramsey as a vampire ward known as Whisper.

Other important roles include Himish Patel (Station Eleven, Tenet) as Felix, Darcy’s will they/won’t they friend, Caroline Ford (Once Upon a Time, Carnival Row) as Penelope, a mysterious vampire seeking shelter from an unknown enemy, and David Gyasi (The Diplomat, Interstellar) as Rook, an Overlord whose story intersects with Darcy’s, altering both of their destinies.

It’s with this spectacular cast that Impact Winter is truly able to excel with absorbing storytelling and stand out as an addictive, scary vampire drama.

Joining the cast in Season 2 are Sacha Dhawan (Iron Fist, The Great), Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones, The Witch), Ellie Bamber (Willow), Danielle Galligan (Shadow and Bone) and Andrew Gower (Being Human, Outlander).

Season 2

For Impact Winter’s second season – which boasts the tagline “Hear Your Heart Stop” – the world-saving prophecy etched in vampire lore plays a huge part, placing our heroes directly in the path of the demonic vampire Queen.

Picking up six months after the events of Season 1, Darcy, having just demonstrated powers unlike any that have ever been seen, is in hiding on the Irish coast, training to make full use of her abilities thanks to the guidance of those seeking to end the global winter.

Meanwhile, Hope rises to a new role of leadership, having proven herself to be a strong and capable warrior in Darcy’s absence while also finding time for a new romance (trust us, her last stab at this ended very badly).

The Queen’s undead Council has other plans, however, sending a savage and powerful Blighter named Humble Jon to thwart our heroes and put down this rebellion before it can even start. With the future of the world still hanging in the balance, it just might take an alliance between humans and vampires to set things right.

You can listen to the Audible Original Impact Winter ad-free now on Audible or with limited interruption wherever you get your podcasts.

Matt Fowler