Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Some readers might really like this story of a girl named Fer who travels The Way to a magical land, but I’m not sure who those readers would be. It’s a Narnia-like story in that Fer reaches a land which is being ruled by an evil “Mor”, and Fer must use “good magic” to fight against the Mor and free the land from her evil enchantments. However, the atmosphere and feeling is not at all like C.S. Lewis’s tales, but much more pagan and witch-y and spellbound.

Maybe Winterling is a vegetarian, herb-woman fairy tale. Fer is a vegetarian, and several times during the story she emphasizes the fact that she doesn’t eat meat and won’t kill animals. Fer’s grandmother is an herb-woman who teaches Fer to be a healer using various magical spells and herbs. This earth magic later comes in quite handy as Fer confronts the evil Mor and heals the creatures who have been wounded by her magic.

It just took me a long time to get into the story or to identify with any of the characters. About halfway through I began to care about what happened to Fer and her companions, but I still found the book made me feel uneasy and fish-out-of-water. Again, Winterling might be just the book for some fantasy fans, just not really me.

Other voices:
Jen Robinson (disagrees with me): “I think that people who enjoy traditional fantasy (like the C.S. Lewis books) will welcome this addition to the canon. Fans of Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs will also want to give this one a look. Recommended for anyone looking to visit a new world (and one with the promise of additional books), ages ten and up.”
(I liked Breadcrumbs, and I love Narnia. But this book just didn’t click with me.)

Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia: “Prineas’ world-building is also top-notch, and her characterization of Fer, her fearful grandmother and the denizens of the other world are outstanding. I’ll look forward to more of Fer, Rook, and further adventures in other lands the next in this series.”

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