Winterling, by Sarah Prineas


Author: Sarah Prineas

Genre: Fantasy adventure
Stand alone or series: First in a series
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 3, 2012)

I picked up this new book by Sarah Prineas, because I had read and enjoyed her ‘Magic Thief’ series. I was looking for more of the wonderful world-building and voice that captivated me in her earlier books. And, I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.

‘Winterling’ is the story of Fer, a young girl who “feels an instant attachment” to a magical realm that can be reached through a Way in the forest. This is a portal story like a lot of children’s fantasy novels, and it somewhat reminds me of ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.’ The Way through to the other world is always present yet secret, and can only be reached by certain individuals.

There’s an evil huntress/queen with the requisite minions, and magic that initially exists only in that world but also threatens to seep through to ours. There’s also a Mr. Tumnus-like character, who helps Fer navigate her way when she first arrives. But, unlike the unfortunate Tumnus, this secondary character remains important throughout the story.

Still, there is much in ‘Winterling’ that makes it a truly unique adventure. Fer’s character, with her patchwork jacket and herbs, is a very likable heroine. She has a wild, nature-loving personality, which weaves nicely into and throughout the plot. As her history is revealed, we find out more of why she is drawn to this place. The way she interacts with this strange world and its residents feel natural and not at all contrived. Her allies, particularly her horse (which is more than just transportation), add interest and will keep readers wondering about who’s who, and where the story is going.

There are points in the plot that seem as though they appeared out of nowhere. But, overall, it’s a fast-paced and well-told story. I also wish that Fer’s grandmother was a more substantial character. I feel that she has more to say and more to show our heroine. Maybe we’ll see this in future books (I hope).

My favorite aspect of the book is the voice in which the story is told. The imagery is rich and descriptive, with bits of lovely prose here and there. As an example, here’s the first paragraph:

The dog fled. He raced down a shadowy forest trail lit by the full moon. Hearing the howl of the wolves that pursued him, he left the path for the darker forest, struggling through brambly bushes, dodging trees that grabbed after him with long, twiggy fingers.

This is a great fantasy novel for both middle-grade boys and girls.

Recommendation: 4 Stars
Avalability: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, Ebook

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