“You cannot shy away from yourself. Look the world in the eye, and it can do nothing to hurt you.”
Book: Winterspell (Winterspell #1)
Author: Clara Legrand
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.
New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.
Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.
Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
If you’re going to to have an issue with the MC lusting after a statue, this is not the book for you. I agree, it’s a little weird but haven’t we all thought that the book-cover model on our favorite NA was hot? Consider this the repressed 19th century New York girl version of it. Also, consider the fact that that Clara literally had no potential love interest hanging around. They were all ancient (Godfather) or creepy (Dr. Victor). A girl’s got to have some crush material.
And for a girl who’s sexually and physically abused, a statue seems like a pretty safe choice. You know…because it can’t assault you.
Anyway falling in love with a statue has literary precedence. Pygmalion anyone?
And something you thought was fictional coming to life- Inkheart.
Second major complaint was Godfather. For God’s sake, he wasn’t meant to be a grandfatherly figure. He was meant to be a Dumbledoresque character. If Harry Potter wasn’t a childrens’ book, I’m sure we’d see a lot more innuendo flying out from his purple and yellow star pattern robed self. So why is everybody aghast that Godfather made a couple of suggestions that had a sexual overtone? It’s not like he was propositioning her!
Third major complaint. ALSO MAJOR SPOILER! Nicholas’s betrayal. Let me make this clear: I don’t advocate anyone ‘making’ someone do something.
But this dude had a war to win, Clara was a potential game-changer and he was in danger of losing his army’s support. Not the bravest or most principled move, but it was understandable. Yes, he betrayed Clara’s trust since he told her he respected her and I wished she had made him sweat a little (no, a lot more) before accepting his apology but YA books have tried to get me to forgive characters who have done a lot more horrendous stuff. (Tobias cuts off a part of Tris’s ear in Divergent, Lucas implies that Jacqueline’s carelessness and attituted were responsible for her near-rape in Easy and Harry tortures Carrow for insulting his teacher in the Deathly Hallows).SPOILER OVER.
Now that I’m done being defensive, I can move onto what I actually liked about this book:
Character development is number one on this list. At the beginning of the book, I really couldn’t empathise with Clara. Like, at all. She just seemed so passive and meek. Then I was forced to sympathise with her, and towards the last third of the book she picked up a badass attitude that made me respect her at points. This is the most compelling part of the book.
Godfather is an interesting character with quite the backstory. Loved him too.
But where this book truly shines is the love triangle. Wow! I never thought that I would say that. Nicholas, Clara and Anise form one very messed up love triangle. With Nicholas and Anise fighting some incredibly violent tendencies, Clara and Anise having an existential crises, Nicholas and Anise fighting a war for the same land and Clara questioning her sexuality- this is hella fascinating to watch.
It doesn’t read like a soap (so I’m sorry for making it sound like one) with Anise and Nicholas individually accentuating Clara’s sensual and manipulative side and her naiver, more innocent side respectively. The love feels original and organic.
The writing was a bit awkward at times with Ms. Legrand using ellipsis rather…randomly and going crazy with the commas in an attempt to make everything turn-of-the-century steampunk language.
Nicholas was a bit flat as a love interest. Maybe later books will fix this, maybe they will not but he’s definitely not the kind of guy I would go for. Too confused and cliched for me.
Overall Rating: 4/5
I gave this book an actual rating of 3.5 and then decided to round up instead of down because this book gets a whole lot of flak it doesn’t deserve.