Monday, April 27, 2015

YA Review: Winterspell

Winterspell (Winterspell, 1) by Claire Legrand, September 30, 2014. 454 pages. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Source: borrowed from library.
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.
First Sentence:
Our stories say that when the human world was made, not all of it fit.

After really enjoying Claire Legrand's debut middle grade, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a couple years back I was excited to see what she would do when it came to young adult. I was also quite excited to read a retelling of The Nutcracker, so, this book and I were obviously meant to cross paths.

So, how did I enjoy my first taste of Claire Legrand's young adult writing? Well, I liked it quite a lot. It was a little slow out of the gate, but, as the story progressed I came to enjoy the slower pace as it gave more time for the story to get into my head. While it took me some time to come to appreciate Clara, in regards to her personality and outlook on her situation, I came to enjoy her story because it was so different from that of the original nutcracker. Plus, I was super curious as to what would happen further into the book as Clara found herself in Cane.

Okay, the world, both the mundane and Cane, were what really made Winterspell such an interesting read. At times my mind kept thinking of The Wizard of Oz because some of the characters in Cane almost seemed to almost parallel those from the real world. It could have been just me imaging something like that, but it just seemed so plausible that I refuse to think otherwise. Moving on past my crazy ideas...
  While Cane is not somewhere I would like to find myself, I really enjoyed the various layers to world and the characters there. It was interesting for so many reasons, reasons of which I'm failing to find the words for. I was just fascinated by the inner-workings of Cane and the overall set up and how the characters fit into the world.

As I mentioned earlier, it took me some time to warm up to Clara. It wasn't that I completely disliked her in the beginning, it was more that she was mildly irritating in her passivity. Then again, given her situation there wasn't all that much she could do at the time. Yet, as I read more of her story, mainly that of when she left the real world, I came to like her because, for the most part, she refused to give up. Sure she almost fell prey to Anise's schemes but it was interesting to see her work through things.
  As for Nicholas, I did not care for him all that much! Don't ask me why, I just was not all that sold on him. Yet, while I didn't much care for him, the final fifty or so pages made him less dis-likable.
Now, let's talk about the writing. I must say that Claire Legrand's writing it so good! Thus far, I have really enjoyed the worlds she has created in her books. One of the reasons I've found myself enjoying Claire Legrand's writing is that she does such a marvelous job with world building and characterization.

Final Verdict: Winterspell- A dark and twisty take on the Nutcracker that is so good.

Winterspell earns

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