Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Hi all!

It's been a while again :)

Title: Winterspell
Release date: 30th of September 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Fantasy, YA
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from for Kindle


Darkly romantic and entirely enchanting, this reimagining of The Nutcracker from Claire Legrand brims with magic, love, and intrigue. New York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer (Cinder) says “this is not your grandmother’s Nutcracker tale.”

After her mother is brutally murdered, seventeen-year-old Clara Stole is determined to find out what happened to her. Her father, a powerful man with little integrity, is a notorious New York City gang lord in the syndicate-turned-empire called Concordia. And he isn’t much help.But there is something even darker than Concordia’s corruption brewing under the surface of the city, something full of vengeance and magic, like the stories Clara’s godfather used to tell her when she was a little girl. Then her father is abducted and her little sister’s life is threatened, and Clara accidentally frees Nicholas from a statue that has been his prison for years. Nicholas is the rightful prince of Cane, a wintry kingdom that exists beyond the city Clara has known her whole life.When Nicholas and Clara journey together to Cane to retrieve her father, Clara encounters Anise, the queen of the faeries, who has ousted the royal family in favor of her own totalitarian, anti-human regime. Clara finds that this new world is not as foreign as she feared, but time is running out for her family, and there is only so much magic can do...


I was extremely excited for this book due to The Nutcracker being my ultimate favourite ballet and it would be intriguing to see a YA version of this gorgeous and magical tale. I was expecting light, charming, sweet and something more similar to children’s literature, but I got a grim, gritty and quite a shocking story with the tone being more similar to a New Adult book. And, to be honest, I don’t even know if I entirely liked this surprising outcome, but there was something compelling about this steampunk version of it.

What I liked:

The magical world of Cane and its fate was overall obviously dark, ugly and quite descriptive: all the experiments, “drug” addictions, almost-prostitution, torture, voyeurism, oft nakedness, graphic description of dead bodies, slaves, girl on girl kissing, appalling treatment of particular groups of residents (eg. humans, mages), etc – all presented and shown in a not so nice way, far from it. While it was something I needed get used to, in the end, I quite liked this take on this wold. If you like kinky fairy-tale-like YA then this story is 100% for you!

There was a multitude of icky, creepy and despicable characters you simply had to hate and when I say despicable then I really mean very devious. I was definitely not indifferent towards them and that’s a good thing. I liked that it wasn’t strongly based on the original and took heaps of inspiration, but not all details and it wasn’t a retelling. Also, the pace of the book was great, there was never a boring moment, all the time something was happening and the story moved with speed.

The world-building was phenomenal: detailed, twistedly gorgeous and lifelike/realistic. And as I mentioned, the story didn’t only highlight the good, but also the wicked and evil side of both these two worlds/cities - Concordia and Cane. Thus, it was considerably more believable.

I liked that Nicholas wasn’t entirely a good guy, he had a lot of grey area, did some selfish things, was somewhat deceitful and didn’t always act as a gentleman should. I wish there would have been more insight into his mind.

Drosselmeyer was just as creepy as I’ve always seen him as – great! Full stop.

What I didn’t like:

Clara was simply so unfortunate and in a constant position where I felt sympathy for her or with a mentality that everything was her fault or that she had to take responsibility – her martyr routine was kind of tiring. She had all this power, but she still came across weak and slightly pathetic to me. I understand that she was clearly in a sticky position, but I felt more for Nicholas and the poor residents of Cane.

My personal complaint (slightly spoilery): I’m starting to get tired of these special snowflake heroines. I mean, come on, again a girl who discovers there is more to her than visible and, naturally, she end up being the top of the food chain or something like that. Everyone will fall short in competing with her power and her most important asset – the power of the heroine. This trope is awesome when done right, but when you don’t even particularly like the heroine then it can become bothersome.

Oh my, how I couldn’t stand Clara’s annoying no-good father, well at least in the state he was presented during this story.


A very morbid, sexual and adult take on the beloved ballet Nutcracker. And although, I had serious issues with the heroine, I was still intrigued and impressed by the direction and tone of the story. It was certainly quite imaginative and very well written.

3 stars!



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