Here it is, the first of my Most Anticipated Reads of 2012. Winterling by Sarah Prineas was well worth the anticipation. This is one of the books that just fit me and my mood perfectly.
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.
Yay for heroines who ask questions! Again. And again. And again. Until they finally get the answers they need. Also, yay for heroines who persist in what they know is right even when others say it is a lost cause. Fer had me smiling through the entire book, mostly because she is a bit different as a heroine. She is a thinker, compassionate, and true to her word. She meets what must be done head on and pours love and mercy on the people she meets. (I was also happy that not all of those she bestowed these traits on were very thankful for them. It gave the book a realistic quality that I appreciated.) At the same time she is scared of the unknown and not absolutely sure of herself. Rook was another favorite (the book focuses on him almost as much as it does on Fer) as I have a much acknowledged weakness for trickster characters with attitude. Especially when they are truly heroic and angry about it. That's always good reading.
There are many elements of the plot and world that will be familiar to most readers. The idea of a changeling, the Other world running not quite in tandem with but crossing over ours, the concept of a Green Man (or Woman), an evil one who must be defeated to restore balance and what is proper. Prineas took all of these and really made them her own though. She has created a world that is beautiful and mysterious and conveys those things without being overly descriptive. She says much with few words, a trait I always appreciate in a writer. I actually had dreams about the story each night I was reading it and that doesn't happen to me often. Only when a writer has really been able to etch their world into my mind.
Happily there will be a sequel coming out in 2013 titled Summerkin so there is more from this world to look forward too. (Most Anticipated of 2013 list already in the making.)
Kate at Book Aunt posted a review for this where she talks about the Irish myths used in the story. Very interesting.
And tomorrow The Enchanted Inkpot will post an interview with Sarah Prineas about the book.