Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)
Hardcover (454 pages)
Reading Challenges: 2016 Backlist Books, 2016 Retelling Challenge, 2016 Royal Challenge, Read 2016
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.
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 really wanted to love this book. The cover is gorgeous and the description is very promising. It isn’t often that you come across a retelling of The Nutcracker so I really wanted to love this book. But I couldn’t.
I loved the worldbuilding. It is quite detailed and Cane sounds so real. Yes, it is a bit lot dark but I was expecting that. I loved the premise and some parts, like the beginning, were awesome.
Then things got weird. First, Clara has a strange relationship with a statue. Yes, the statue does come to life later but she still has a relationship with a statue while it is a statue. It is really strange.
Once the statue is (mostly) human, he is a crazy psychopath. He is messed up from stuff that happened in his childhood and he is manipulative. He says he isn’t going to manipulate Clara and then he does anyway.
Speaking of Clara, why is it mentioned nowhere that parts of this book are lesbian fiction? Seriously, I don’t read that for a reason. So Clara is apparently bisexual and there is a lot of nakedness. The majority of this book read like new adult instead of young adult and there is a reason I read young adult.
Clara is really annoying as well. For about the first half of the book she is blaming everyone for her mother’s death the previous year. She also abandons her younger sister to chase after their drunk father. That leaves the younger sister with someone who was sexually harassing Clara and Clara knows it. Really? Not the best older sister there.
Then, later, Clara wants to let a girl get raped in the streets so that it doesn’t put her, Clara, at risk of being recognized. Who does that? Especially after Clara has had to put up with a perverted sexual harasser already. Seriously, who does that? Apparently Clara Stole does.
What can I even say for the rest of this book? There is a mad half-faerie queen. The supporting characters weren’t very memorable. The ending is unrealistic. There are creepy faeries, everyone is psyco, and there is too much of the sensual.
While this book definitely wasn’t for me, I’m sure someone else will love it. If you can get past the stuff I couldn’t stand, good for you. I hope this book doesn’t let you down like it did me.