Author: Jenna Burtenshaw
PublicationDate: May 2010
ARC: 288 pages
ReadingLevel: Young Adult
Ten years ago Kate Winters’ parents were taken by the High Council’s wardens to help with the country’s war effort. Now the wardens are back…and prisoners, including Kate’s uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane — the High Council’s most feared man — recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace.
The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft — a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. To help Artemis, Edgar and herself, Kate must honour her pact with a murderer and come face to face with the true nature of death.
Wintercraft is a debut novel, which has had quite a lot of buzz leading up to it’s publication date. The cover is awesome and I was very much looking forward to reading this book which is being marketed as an alternative to vampires and angels, and I was definitely up for something refreshing and new.
Although Wintercraft is a solid debut, with good writing and a flowing plot, it didn’t blow me away. The landscape in Wintercraft is vibrant and descriptions of places and scenes are well thought out, unfortunately I didn’t feel the same about the characters.
Kate is a young girl with a gift. She can see into the ‘veil’, the boundary between worlds and see through spirits of others. I found Kate’s character to be rather flat. I didn’t really get a sense of who she was until around a hundred pages from the end, which is when the book kicked into gear for me with regards to excitement and energy. Much of the book we see Kate running, hiding and getting caught, or escaping, running, hiding and getting caught again, which was rather repetitive. Edgar, Kate’s best friends’ role was that of rescuer and not much else.
The character which stood out by far was that of Silas, the evil element to the story. However, he wasn’t evil enough, instead I found myself feeling sympathetic towards him and his plight as a man brought back from death but living with no soul. He wishes for death and thinks that Kate and her gift are the key to getting what he wants. He is the most colourful character of all and his cold, harsh exterior and violent nature, which we really don’t see that much of, hides a small part that is still good. For me, the true evil in Wintercraft is found in Da’ru, a member of the High Council.
I also feel that this book would be more suitable for younger teens because although the main protagonist, Kate, is around fifteen, she is quite a young fifteen and didn’t have the same maturity I have found when reading other young adults books with the same aged protagonists.
Sadly Wintercraft didn’t engage me as much as I hoped it would. I wish the characters were more developed, as I prefer my books to be quite character driven, and didn’t really think that the plot alone was substantial enough to carry the book. However, Wintercraft is a fun fantasy and I’m sure many fantasy fans will enjoy it.
Source: Thank you to Headline for sending me an advance readers copy for review.
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