Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: Harper Collins
May Contain Spoilers
“We live here, my girl, because it is close to the Way, and echoes of its magic are felt in our world. The Way is a path leading to another place, where the people are governed by different rules. Magic runs through them and their land.”
With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.
Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the MÓr rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.
Sarah Prineas captivates in this fantasy-adventure about a girl who must find within herself the power to set right a terrible evil.
When I saw the coal black horse with glaring red eyes on the cover of Winterling, I immediately wanted to know more about it. It’s a Middle Grade fantasy, and as I have been having quite a bit of good luck finding satisfying stories with these books lately, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down again. This is an exciting, magical read with a strong and feisty heroine who is moved by her heart to do the right thing. My favorite kind of character.
Fer feels that she doesn’t fit in her world. She hates school and the hurtful taunts of her classmates, and worse, once she climbs aboard the bus and is taken to the city, she starts to feel ill and muddle-headed. Her grandmother, Grand-Jane, doesn’t seem to understand how wrong Fer feels when she’s surrounded by the city and her schoolmates, and she keeps insisting she go to school. She has no sympathy when Fer gets into trouble for fighting, and Grand-Jane expects Fer to stay out of mischief. Miserable, the girl forces herself to suffer through one endless day after another.
One day on her way home from school one day, she witnesses three wolves attacking a dog. Upset that they are ganging up on the smaller animal, Fer bravely scoops up a fallen branch and wades into the middle of the fight, fearlessly chasing the wolves away. When she checks the dog for injuries, she discovers, much to her surprise, that the dog isn’t a dog at all; he is really a strange boy named Rook. Rook tells Fer about the Way, a magical portal to his world, and suddenly, Fer’s life will never be the same again.
This book had me hooked when Fer, despite her fear, bravely defended Rook against the wolves. She is a girl who doesn’t know how to back down. There is no challenge too frightening for her to turn away from, and she constantly puts herself at risk to save those around her. I loved her bravery, and more than that, I loved her selflessness. Fer never wanted anything in return, and she readily gave of herself, in a land that had long since lost the ability to be kind or generous.
Once Fer is swept up into the adventure of a lifetime, she learns the truth about her parents and the magical land she belongs in. As she tries to discover the fate of her parents, she is challenged at every turn by the beautiful Lady and the hold she has over her subjects. Breathtakingly beautiful and frighteningly powerful, her iron will keeps her subjects in line. Enchanted by her glamor, Fer’s own magic slowly begins to uncoil within her, causing just enough doubt to break the Lady’s magical hold on her.
With Rook’s reluctant help, Fer searches for a way to fix both Rook’s world and her own. With the Way opened, the weather in both realms is spiraling out of control, causing devastation and destruction. Spring has gone into hiding, and nobody knows why. Only the Lady’s bloody Hunts bring back the warm weather, but Fer isn’t fooled. She knows that something is wrong, and that the Lady is leaving a terrible stain on the land.
I was enchanted by Fer, an unhappy, sullen girl who, like the land she comes to love, slowly begins to bloom. There is a strong and caring magic within her, and even though she tries to deny it, it begins to grow, compelling her to use it for the good of those around her. Her kindness transforms those around her, even the angry and tricky Rook, a boy bond by a thrice sworn promise to do things he abhors. Both characters change and mature during their adventures, and that made this book a delight. As they learn to care for others, I learned to care for them.
Review copy provided by publisher