E mmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
*An advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*
I was on the fence while reading Winterkill. The writing was done well, captivating even. The world-building piqued my interest. But the pacing. I was reading a story told at glacial speed. Half the time I didn’t know if I was bored or if I was on the verge of finding out something new in the story. It was frustrating to the point where I would take prolonged breaks from reading just because I didn’t know if I wanted to keep going or just call it quits.
Pacing aside, Winterkill was enjoyable overtime. The questions that came about through my read-through–Why is Emmeline stained? What terrible thing did her grandmother do? What are these terrible monsters that plague the village? What is beyond the village?–were enough to keep me going to the end. The world established inside the village was pieced together nicely and well-crafted with suspence that lingers (and does just that), making for an enjoyable world-of-story. But most of the story becomes dragged out with littering qualms and instant feelings brought about in Emmeline. But I will touch upon her character shortly. The language duality between English and French became a nuisance though especially since I do not know a lick of French. I wouldn’t have minded if it were some words followed by translations, but leaving me to translate took me right out of the story immediately.
Coming back to Emmeline. She is a shallow character. More on the side of the Mary Sue rather than a character that breaks free from the submissive trope or one that has a distinctive voice. Emmeline suffers from insta-love and selfishness. While her curiosity for the world beyond her walls and her interest in nature are redeeming qualities in her, the way she reacts in order to progress the plot does not radiate well in her character development. Reckless and selfish, Emmeline embodies a selfless martyr in her own eyes and, unfortunately, it demotes her character in my perspective. Most of her narrative ends up acknowledging her bad foot, and ends up becoming rather repetitive and disengaging. Her adventurous side was what kept me reading, only because the more she adventured outside the perimeters of her village, the more knowledge she gained about the outside world and her strange dreams. The insta-love and Emmeline’s need to be saved by someone other than herself diminished not just Emmeline but the attempts for a strongly build novel.
Final Summation: I found that Winterkill is more of a light read than anything. Slow in progression, suspenseful and thrilling, with character development that barely breaks through the surface. First in a series, I hope for more development in Emmeline and the world-of-story. I recommend for those who enjoyed the movie The Village or those who like slow narratives and curious characters.