Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

October 2, 2014 Review 1

Review: Winterspell by Claire LegrandWinterspell by Claire Legrand
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 30, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 464
Source: Edelweiss
Sexual Content: Brief scene of unwanted physical contact, kissing
Reviewed by: Kate
4 Stars

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.

It's hard to be anything but seduced by the magical beauty of the WINTERSPELL cover. Luckily, the story that Legrand crafts has a magical beauty to match. Clara's journey through Cane, coming into powers she didn't know she had, her quest to save her father, and the delicate romance between her and Nicholas are all fascinating parts of this fairy tale.

WINTERSPELL is one of those retellings that takes the original story as a jumping off point, and crafts it into something so deviously different that beyond a scene or two, you wouldn't know it and the original are related. Some books do it terribly, some do it well, and luckily, WINTERSPELL is one of the latter. WINTERSPELL made my heart race and my breathing faster as I followed Clara on her journey through constant danger. I shared Clara's distrust of those around her - she could never be certain who was on her side, and Legrand's ability to make characters both terrifying and yet sympathetic was masterful.

WINTERSPELL had a distinctly dark taste to its fantasy. It was in turns violent and grotesque, even for an adult reading it. Though classified as young adult (by virtue of the publisher) I would suggest that WINTERSPELL be reserved for mature or older young adult readers who may be ready to handle the violence and torture.

At times disturbing, at times marvelous, WINTERSPELL is a spectacularly crafted fantasy world, full of multi-faceted characters and one girl's hope for a better world. I'll admit I was knocked off my feet at how absorbed I became in the story. I blew through this one in a day, unable to put it down. Though I may not read it again, I definitely recommend it for those who are looking for excellently done retellings, or some more mature young adult fantasy.

Series Titles:


More Reviews: Similar Titles:
  • For a similar feel of dark fantasy with a young woman coming into her powers, try THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen.
  • For more retellings, try CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge or PRINCESS OF THORNS by Stacey Jay.

One Response to “Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand”

  1. Mina

    Ah, that sounds like a great read on a rainy autumn-day… and since I’m sooo not a young adult anymore and like reading on the dark side, I’ll surely get the book. Thank you for the review!