Saturday, 9 August 2014

ARC Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand Synopsis:
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 
nothuman. 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.

***I received the eBbook free as a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review***

When I started this book I can’t say I was very familiar with the nutcracker story and worried how much I would understand. However in the end there were very few references (that I picked up at least) so it felt like a completely original story which I appreciated, but people looking for more precise retellings might not.

It did explain everything very thoroughly from the surroundings to the characters emotions which may have just been Legrand’s style of writing, but still managed to miss out a lot of details that I’d consider important including the background story of Concordia which is effectively the “real world”. You spend a considerable amount of time there at the start but it seemed to be a very long-winded introduction to the characters rather than anything else.

The characters, where do I even begin? I say this in as polite a way as possible but I like none of them. At all. Clara in particular because she annoyed the hell out of me, simple as that. With no female role model I can understand where her vulnerability comes from, but she’s then taught fighting skills with all sorts of weaponry, so much so that I expected more from her when the time came to put them to the test. But what does she do? She bursts into useless tears and lets people walk all over her too terrified to fight back. The only times she does is when it’s convenient for the plot, not because her character’s developed or strengthened for the better.

Nicholas is one of the characters that took advantage of Clara because even though he’s supposed to be the heartthrob love interest he’s, and I have to say it; a complete douche. He’s watched her grow up and you’re meant to believe he has feelings for her but then the second he realises she’s useful to him, he turns and stabs her in the back. Nothing subtle about it, he was going to take away her free-will and use it for his own selfish aims. Only when he finally gets his head round what he did wrong he thinks an apology is all it takes to erase everything, worse yet is Clara goes along with it! If she had just a little self-respect she’d kick Nicholas to the curb and refuse anything to do with him. So of course she doesn’t, what more did you expect from the girl who blames everything on herself?

The rest of the characters did nothing to make them stand out for me personally, and when I look back what stood out most is how much I disliked them above all else. It’s why this book only got 3 stars (me being generous considering I had no emotional connection to the characters or the story). However if you like a long and detailed story about two characters you will quickly grow to hate, go ahead and pick Winterspell up.
Favourite Quotes:
“You’re powerful, Clara. Or you could be, if you would let go of your fear long enough to realize it.”

“His eyes shone with an anguish Clara understood well. Loss, horrible loss. Pain and anger, and the world being pulled out from beneath one’s feet.”

“She had forgotten how to care about the city that had taken so much from her. Forgetting was the only way she had found to keep moving every day.”

“So many stories yet to be told, so many secrets to be unearthed. It would happen soon; Clara would make sure of it, and if Nicholas tried to evade her, well, she still had her daggers.”

“You cannot shy away from yourself. Look the world in the eye, and it can do nothing to hurt you.”

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