Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be sharing some of my favourite wintry books I’ve been reading recently. Onto the post!
The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery
This enchanting historical fantasy is the story of Col, who is living with his aunt due to the Blitz and the death of his father, as he is forced to try and defeat the Midwinter King before he destroys London and puts Col’s sister in terrible danger, alongside his imaginary friends from childhood who have come back to help him. Col is such a lovely character and I had so much sympathy for him, as well as the other main character Esther. Their friendship was so lovely too, and I’m struggling to even find words that can describe how much I adored the Midnight Guardians. Pendlebury is so elegant and clever and strong, Mr Noakes is so lovable and sweet and the Rogue made me laugh a lot, particularly when he bickers with Mr Noakes. The blend of history and fantasy was fantastic too; it explores the very real issues the war causes, while also having a perfectly plotted fantasy adventure at its heart. It was such an emotional rollercoaster- I laughed so much, I cried at multiple points, I held my breath while reading at some points because I was so worried about what would happen- and I finished it within about a day because I just couldn’t wait to see how things would end for Col, Esther and their Guardians. This is a definite new favourite for me, and a surefire future classic if there’s any justice.
Owl and the Lost Boy by Amy Wilson
In the much-anticipated sequel to 2017’s A Girl Called Owl, we return to Jack Frost’s daughter Owl’s world a few months after her first adventure, when her friend Alberic and the his father Earl of Autumn have gone missing and Owl must save them, or see the world remain in an eternal summer. It was lovely to see the characters again, particularly Owl and Mallory, and return to this interesting magical world in which there are magical rulers of all the seasons, who are constantly vying with each other for power. As with the first book, I loved seeing their power struggle play out, and it was really interesting getting to see new parts of this world; I especially enjoyed meeting the new characters. As ever, Amy Wilson’s writing is so lyrical and beautiful, and it’s always such a pleasure to visit one of her vividly imagined and phenomenally described worlds.
A Snowfall of Silver by Laura Wood
This is quite possibly my favourite YA book I’ve read in the whole of 2020, and while I loved A Sky Painted Gold, I think this is even better. It’s the story of Freya, who is the younger sister of ASPG’s protagonist Lou, as she runs away to London and ends up joining a travelling theatre company, where of course she gets to experience her very own love story. Freya is a brilliant character, she’s so ambitious and dramatic, but also very funny and lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in her company. The supporting cast are phenomenal too- they’re all so fleshed out and three dimensional that they really felt real to me, with my particular favourites being Kit, Nora and Alma. The romance plotline is stunning, and I love the time period it’s set in too, and the theatre setting and plotline brought me an immense amount of joy because I love reading about that world even though I’m not part of it. It’s so romantic and cosy and wintry, and to be honest, just writing this review has made me desperately wanted to reread it immediately. I can’t recommend it enough if you want a book to sweep you away into another world and make you feel better, I really can’t.
Glassheart by Katharine Orton
In her magical second book, Katharine Orton introduces Nona, who travels post World War 2 Britain with her uncle replacing stained glass windows, and this is the story of a mysterious job they are forced to take which ends up drawing her into a magical battle for her life. The world Katharine weaves is so intricate and unique, with a really interesting magical element, and as with her debut, I love the way she blends the fantasy and historical elements. Nona is a great character, who I really admired for her strength and kind heartedness, and I also loved her uncle and Castor. I don’t want to say who they are as I think it would be a spoiler, but the antagonist is so well rounded and interesting, and I’d actually love to learn more about them. The plot drew me in pretty immediately, and as I’ve never read anything quite like this before, I was dying to see it how it ended. This is a lyrical, moving story that has me incredibly excited to see what Katharine writes next!
Frostheart by Jamie Littler
In his debut novel, Jamie Littler tells the story of Ash, who lives in a world where people have to live in Strongolds to protect themselves from the mythical monsters who have taken over and Singing is forbidden, as he discovers that he has a special power and joins the Pathfinder Frostheart sleigh in a bid to find out more about the parents he barely remembers. The world is so complex and interesting, and I thought the worldbuilding was really well done as it never felt like it was info dumping even though there was a lot of information that needed to put in in order to understand the plot. Ash is a lovely main character, and I felt so sorry for him as he goes through some pretty tough times throughout the book. I also had a soft spot for his yeti guardian Tobu, and Captain Nuk was fantastic too! The plot is very exciting, and there’s a lot more to discover in this world in the sequels, which I’m looking forward to finding out about.
Snow Foal by Susanna Bailey
I can’t even begin to describe how special I thought this book was- it feels a little bit like a Jacqueline Wilson or Gill Lewis book, but more wholesome and comforting, even though it explores such complicated and difficult situations. It’s the story of Addie, who is sent to live with a foster family on a farm, and the bond she strikes up with an abandoned foal who arrives at the same time as her. I absolutely adored Addie- my heart broke for her so many times, but I loved the way living at the farm changes her life and her as a person. The relationship between her and the foal is unbelievably beautiful, of course, but I also loved her relationships with the humans on the farm, particularly Jude and Gabriel, who are very special characters in their own right too. I will warn you that it’ll very likely make you cry, but I devoured it in a couple of hours one cold Sunday afternoon and it very definitely warmed my heart. I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on the author’s newest release Otters’ Moon, because based on Snow Foal, I may well have found a new favourite author.
Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood
I’ve been promising one of my friends I’d read this soon for 2 years now, and I was very nervous when I actually picked it up, because I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect or if it would be as good as I’ve always hoped. Thankfully, it was amazing and I loved it, so thank you Rachael for the fab recommendation! It’s the story of a young rabbit called Podkin, who is the lazy son of his clan’s chieftain , as he and his siblings Paz and Pook are forced to go on the run from the terrifying Gorm. First of all, I thought this world was so interesting and unique- it reminded me a little bit of the Warrior Cat books by Erin Hunter, but with more of a fantasy element to it, and I loved learning about it. I also adored the characters- Paz was my very favourite, but I did think Podkin was brilliant too and Pook is just precious. I was also a big fan of Brigid and Crom, and Mish and Mash! The whole main cast is great, basically. I also loved how exciting this was! It definitely kept me hooked, the only reason it took me a few days to read it was because I had so many uni deadlines, otherwise I’d have inhaled it in a couple of hours most likely. I also want to mention how much I liked the way the story was told, as it was narrated by a bard who we got to see in interludes from Podkin’s story, which was really fun! I’ve already ordered the sequel, and I can guarantee it won’t take me anywhere near as long to pick it up.
Forest of Shadows by Kamilla Benko
I’m a huge fan of both Kamilla Benko’s Unicorn trilogy and the Frozen films, so I’m so glad I’ve finally got round to reading this, which is the story of an adventure Anna and Elsa have in between the films after a mysterious illness threatens everyone in Arendelle and a mysterious wolf from Anna’s dreams arrives and starts causing issues too. I felt like Kamilla really captured the essence of the characters and this world, and it amazing getting to see parts of it we don’t visit in the films and learn about characters we don’t see in the films either, alongside the characters and places we already know and love. The plot is really interesting and well paced, and I loved the ways in which it links the films and all the little Easter eggs throughout. If you also can’t get enough of the world of Arendelle, I’d definitely recommend giving this a go!
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these? Are you planning to? What wintry books have you been keeping cosy with this year? I’d love to hear in the comments!