Book Review: Winterspell

  • THE BOOK: Winterspell
  • THE AUTHOR: Claire Legrand (instagram)
  • PIP SAYS!: 4.5 PAWS

I tend to read in phases, or binges. Since Thanksgiving I have mostly been reading thrillers – the fast paced nature of the plot along with the gripping sense of WHODUNIT is exactly the kind of reading I am enjoying these days. If I’m not reading a thriller, I am probably reading YA SCIFI/FANTASY. It’s long been one of my favorite genres (and one of my favorite kinds of books to buy – and sometimes read – but that’s a post for another time). I bought Claire Legrand’s most recent book, Furyborn, because of the cover. Often when a book catches my eye I will take a picture of the cover so I can add it to my TBR (it’s truly a never ending list). Occasionally, a cover will be so good, and the excerpt in the front of the jacket or the back of the book so interesting that I can’t just take a picture and move on. This is how I felt about Furyborn.

Because I am a binge reader I like to buy book series (please see this post to fully understand the extent of my love of series) or several books by the same author. One of the first “features” I did on Bookstagram was “Author Week”. I read and loved in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware and then read the three other books she has published.

After finishing Furyborn, I immediately turned to the internet to find out when book 2, Kingsbane, would be released (May 22: I CANNOT WAIT). I looked up her other titles and found that there were a few that sparked my interest. I ordered them from Amazon (because Prime) and dove right in.

Growing up I was not one for traditional fairytales. It’s not that I didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe. It’s almost ironic, that in a life filled with books, I preferred my fairytales animated. By the Walt Disney Company. I know that many of these movies from Cinderella to the Sleeping Beauty to the Little Mermaid are derived from classic fairytales. Even if you combine my love of a good happily ever after love story with my love of reading I still never sought to read the stories behind the movies I loved so much.

I am not very familiar with the Nutcracker story. I believe at some point in my childhood I may have seen the ballet. It is not a story I remember liking. I am only familiar with a few concepts: a girl named Clara, a nutcracker, and mice or rats. This did not deter me from wanting to read Winterspell, on the contrary, it made me want to read it more.

Clara Stole is the mayor’s daughter. With the passing of her mother many of her duties fell to her. She tries to be a mentor for her sister, she tries to care for her father. She makes public appearances on behalf of her father. She tries to help run the household. But even as she does all this she wants so much more. She trains, in secret with a man she calls Godfather, for a future that does not fully exist to her.

Not everything is as it seems. Her father, is merely a puppet. A group known as Concordia is in control of the strings. One fateful night Clara’s entire life and future are spun far from her control. And it culminates in a strange attack on her home and the kidnapping of her father. With her young sister’s fate in her hands she gives chase: she will rescue both her father and her sister though they are now separated by time, distance and magic.

Our stories say that when the human world was first made, not all of it fit. Pieces fell off the whole, like too much dough being stuffed into a small pan, and those bits dropped into cracks and were forgotten. Our stories, the oldest ones, the ones most people no longer remember, say that my country, Cane, is one of those forgotten places, hidden away in some cosmic pocket of existence, for the most part separated from the human world, but not entirely. Tenuous links connect the two worlds – like certain traveling songs, and hidden doorways and magic, if you’re able to use it.

page ix

I was pulled in from the very first words, these words. Magic will always be one of my favorite things from the literary and movie worlds (Cinderella and the Little Mermaid are still my top two Disney movies).

This book is journey through time : both the past and the future at the same time. Cane, the world where her father is taken to, exists in all times : in some ways it feels like 1890s of the original Nutcracker, in some ways it feels as modern as today.

Clara is a force to be reckoned with. She is not perfect. She is lost in her own life, and she struggles with trust and what she should believe in. But she loves her sister and her father and she believes she can save them both. This belief is what propels both Clara and the reader through the pages .

While reading this book, I found myself fully immersed in the magic of this story. This is what a retelling should be. It honors its roots while building a fantastic new world, new story, and new point of view.

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