Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by HarperCollins
“A girl named Fer who travels to a magical land where she has to discover who she truly is while putting right a terrible wrong. She’s helped by a tricksy puck-boy named Rook and a wild horse named Phouka.”
There is a certain magic some authors are enviably able to weave. Their characters open their eyes with cheeks flushed and the world around them bursting with colour. Some authors take thousands of words to create this vista and others a few. Prineas is one of the latter. In Winterling Prineas introduces us to Fer who has always felt like an outsider in school, at home and the world she inhabits. When she meets Puck (I’m pretty that was his name) who is not human, she finds out things about herself, about her parents and about the world that exists just one portal away.
The novel is meant for younger readers and this is very evident by the rather simple story. Where adults would expect layers and complexities, Winterling offers a beautifully simple story. I like how even though we are clearly dealing with faeries, it never is explicitly stated and the author believes that her readers are smart enough to figure it out for themselves. There are themes of transformation, abandonment, greed and friendship. There is also, if I were to fall into theory, some separation-individuation going on here with Fer needing to break away from her grandmother to become the person she is. I found it rather odd that her grandmother, even knowing that the human world causes Fer so much grief, would want to forcibly keep Fer there. She was not a sympathetic character and I was quite reviled by her, to be honest.
The novel is very readable but as I was intimating, it is very much a book for younger readers. Whereas Prineas’s Magic Thief appealed to adult readers as well as the younger audience, this one felt too straightforward to me. This is not to imply I won’t be reading the second in the series because I will. Anyway, Fer and Puck and even the Phouka stuck in the horse form are intriguing characters and I hope to see more of them soon. Buy this one for your younger sibling. Recommended for tweens and early teens.