(Cover picture courtesy of Bibliophilia, Please.)
Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to “stay away.” For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the “special gifts” that must be left at the back of the property.
Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, he takes Salome’s life in a new direction. A direction where she’ll have to decide between her longtime crush, Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin, who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop.
An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Through the first few chapters of The Winter People, I kept thinking “Oh no, there’s going to be a love triangle just like every other YA book out there.” Still, the premise of this book was interesting enough that even a love triangle couldn’t dissuade me. I was resolved to give it a fair try and I’m so glad I did.
Yes, The Winter People seems like it has your absolutely typical love triangle in the beginning. But I promise you that doesn’t last as Salome realizes not everything is as it seems and not everyone is deserving of her affection. She really matures as a character and desperately tries to get over her justified fear of winter from a previously traumatic incident only to realize that she should still be afraid of it. Very, very afraid.
The thing that really sets The Winter People apart from most YA books I’ve read lately is the quality of writing. Rebekah Purdy really does have a beautiful, descriptive writing style that sucks you into the story. She doesn’t describe things in mind-numbing detail but the way she describes them really does make you feel like you’re in all of these scenes, both magical and ordinary. It takes a talented writer to do that and I really believe that if nothing else, the writing alone would be enough reason to read this book.
However, the main character is pretty awesome as well. Salome is terrified of winter because she fell through the ice in her family pond at a very young age. She was rescued by our mysterious Nevin at the time but she still retained a somewhat justifiable fear of all things wintery. Now in high school she’s having to cope with taking care of her grandparents’ house when they go south for the winter because her dad is usually gone (as a trucker) and her mother has a broken leg. Seeing how she deals with that really gives me a lot of respect for her because despite her fear, she’s determined to help out her grandparents.
In the beginning Salome is a bit naive but never falls into the ‘too stupid to live’ category. She really grows and matures not only as she falls in love (then realizes what love really is thanks to a little help from a special someone) but as she fights for her life. There’s a mysterious curse hanging over her head and no one will tell her anything about it so she’s absolutely determined to find out on her own in order to save herself and her family. You really can’t help but love Salome as a character.
The plot isn’t insanely fast-paced because this is a character-driven novel but it is pretty exciting. Just when you think you know how things are going to end, Rebekah Purdy throws a twist in and you’re left scrambling. There were one or two twists I predicted but in general I was pleasantly surprised by most of the turns the story took. They stayed true to the essence of the story while still throwing the reader for a loop and that takes talent on the part of the author.
Even if you’re not big into fairies, I can’t recommend The Winter People enough. These fairies really aren’t all that they seem and they’re more like the fairies of old, not the sweet, innocent and ridiculously hot fairies of most books these days. They’re more capricious and dangerous than your average YA fairy and it certainly makes the story more interesting in that things aren’t only in shades of black and white. After reading this book, I honestly can’t wait to read more of Rebekah Purdy’s work.
I give this book 5/5 stars.