Title: Winterspell (Winterspell #1)
Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Summary: 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 nothuman. 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.
This was one of those cases where cover lust got the best of me and now I’m regretting it. I’d read many reviews of this book and heard all about it’s flaws and I still went and bought it just because the cover was pretty and there was a map inside; I should have known better.
One of my main issues with this book is that lots of things in it are just… strange, and not really in a good way. Now I knew going into this book that lots of people had laughed over the fact that Clara, the main character, is apparently in love with a statue. I assumed that it was over-exaggerated and she was probably just fascinated by the statue and admired it. But I was so wrong; it was even worse and even more uncomfortable that I had imagined.
“The hard lines of the statue’s thighs, belly, chest, scraped against her skin, snagging at the cotton of her chemise and she found herself moving slowly so as to prolong the contact. Molding herself to the metal, she sighed. Her palms slick with sweat, she slid them up the statue’s chest to cup the chiseled, handsome jaw, and pressed herself closer.”
This goes on for a while, Clara reminiscing about all the times she would rub against it and at night, in her bed, how she would feel need for it. It was honestly just uncomfortable to read about because she wasn’t just fascinated by this statue, she was straight up consumed by lusty feelings for it. And on top of that, she is living in 1899 and struggles with the fact that these feelings are apparently wicked and wrong. Which I get is a part of that time period, but it was another thing that was just weirdly addressed throughout the book. Clara was constantly ashamed but curious of her body, which is understandable, but also would think that she deserved being pursued and forced into things she didn’t want by this one creepy man, because she would wear a revealing dress or he would catch a glimpse of her skin. It was honestly just distressing to read and it was constantly shoved in your face throughout the book.
” And besides, wasn’t it her fault, that he gazed at her so? She could have gone home; she could have stayed dressed. Instead here she stood, obscene, indecent, and as she stared at the floor, flushing miserably, she knew whatever Dr. Victor might do was what she deserved.”
As if that didn’t make the book hard enough to read, there is also the fact that it was just plain boring most of the time. This book was about 450 pages long but it felt like a million and took me forever to trudge though, and now that I’m finished, it doesn’t feel like anything really happened. And a lot of the things that did happen felt really unnecessary, like they could have (and should have) just been cut out and it wouldn’t have mattered. It was hard reading this book and realizing that although there was a lot of filler, the actual plot moved forward at a slug’s pace.
When it came down to the characters, I had just as many issues as everything else. Clara was not likable, she wasn’t strong and she definitely wasn’t anyone I would want to be friends with. At one point, she was going to let a girl on the street get probably raped and killed, telling the other person with her to just sit down and cover his ears and pretend it wasn’t happening because she was too scared to help. But it wasn’t just being too scared or too weak to help, it was the fact that she was okay to just let it happen, which is utterly despicable to me. Besides Clara, we have Nicholas, the long lost prince/statue boy and he was just as unlikable. He lies to Clara constantly, uses her, betrays her, then comes crawling back with apologies and sweet words, thinking it will change everything. I probably disliked him more than Clara, which is really saying something at this point.
Overall, this book really just didn’t do it for me. I will admit that the writing wasn’t awful and certain aspects of the book could have been interesting, but it was hard to even focus on that when I was constantly annoyed or repulsed by everything else going on it the book. I have no problem with sexual situations being in a YA book since that’s part of being a young adult, but this book just crammed it down your throat in so many uncomfortable ways that it was almost unbearable. The characters were all unlikable and their interactions were flat, the plot was boring and uneventful, and I’m honestly amazed I made to the end. When I was finished though, I was very disappointed that I wasted my time on this book.