Fantastic Friday: Winterling by Sarah Prineas

written by Sarah Prineas
Harper, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-192103-2
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from personal copy.

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 Mor 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.

I have to confess that I picked this book up because of the cover.  I love that cover, I mean a gorgeous black horse with blazing red eyes.  I found it very intriguing.  I wish I could say the book lived up to the cover, and it does come close, but there were a few things I would have liked to see more of.   

I would have liked to see more character development.  I did like Fer and I admired her spirit and pluck, but I didn't feel a really strong attachment to her.  Rook was an interesting character, a puck bound by oath to Mor.  I enjoyed getting to know him, but I would have appreciated having more background to better understand him and where he was coming from.  I did find the relationship between Fer and Rook an interesting one, with Fer considering him a friend despite his bond to Mor. And I loved that Fer was both strong and kind, offering healing to the injured.

The world that Prineas creates is a fascinating one.  The connection between the seasons and the behavior of the inhabitants I found especially appealing.  Maybe because it mirrors our own connection to our earth and the good and not so good ways we interact with it.  

The plot is the best part of the book, moving along at a nice clip.  This is what I think makes the book especially appropriate for elementary students, they tend to appreciate fast moving plots more than I.  I was like that when I was younger also.  As I've gotten older, I've grown to want more depth in what I read.  But this book provides a fun, entertaining read perfect for young readers not quite ready to take on Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.


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