Hello, friends! Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Winter, White and Wicked by Shannon Dittemore. Thanks to the TBR & Beyond team for having me on tour and to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Goodreads: Winter, White and Wicked
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Publication Date: 13 October 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Mad Max: Fury Road meets Frozen in this striking YA fantasy about a rig driver’s journey to save her friend
Twice-orphaned Sylvi has chipped out a niche for herself on Layce, an island cursed by eternal winter. Alone in her truck, she takes comfort in two things: the solitude of the roads and the favor of Winter, an icy spirit who has protected her since she was a child.
Sylvi likes the road, where no one asks who her parents were or what she thinks of the rebels in the north. But when her best friend, Lenore, runs off with the rebels, Sylvi must make a haul too late in the season for a smuggler she wouldn’t normally work with, the infamous Mars Dresden. Alongside his team—Hyla, a giant warrior woman and Kyn, a boy with skin like stone—Sylvi will do whatever it takes to save her friend.
But when the time comes, she’ll have to choose: safety, anonymity, and the favor of Winter—or the future of the island that she calls home.
Shannon Dittemore is a young adult author, conference speaker, and mentor. Her books include the Angel Eyes novels (Thomas Nelson Fiction) and the forthcoming Winter, White and Wicked, to be published by Abrams Books in the fall of 2020. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. She writes weekly for Go Teen Writers, a blog recognized by Writer’s Digest three years running as a “101 Best Websites for Writers” selection. Shannon’s stories often feature strong female leads grappling with fear and faith as they venture into the wilds of the unknown. In many ways, she’s writing her own life story.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
This was an interesting fast-paced fantasy that had some unique elements I haven’t come across in the YA I’ve read. Since finishing the book I’ve waffled on my rating as there were parts I really enjoyed, but others that I wished had been much better developed. However, it was the ending that ultimately kicked it up to 3.5 stars for me and I’m very keen to see what happens in the sequel! Also, this cover is so gorgeous and I love it! 😍
CW/TW: torture, mentions of drug use and addiction, animal death, attempted rape of a child (flashback scene)
“Winter’s more than words and wind. She’s a chill that clings to everything. She’s power.”
We follow Sylvi’s perspective and honestly? I really struggled with her. Sylvi thrives in the independence that rig driving gives her and that was a unique element that surprised me. I loved that she was a rig driver and it’s definitely something I’ve never seen in YA before. It takes a lot to be a successful young woman in a field that is solely dominated by men, and I admired her courage her solid abilities to so effortlessly handle a beast like the Dragon in such treacherous conditions. It was fantastic! That said, Sylvi is selfish and full of bitterness (so much of it!), rage and contempt that I had a lot of trouble understanding. Some of it is explained later and I understood it to an extent, but her contempt and need to rebel against those who tried to help her, just didn’t make sense to me. She’s flawed and I’m okay with flawed characters if their actions make sense, but I really struggled with Sylvi! She does experience growth by the end though, and although it’s slow and at the same time, kind of abrupt, it was a relief to watch her accept the changes and finally arrive at the realisation that maybe she has been played.
“How is it that I’ve made friends with such a monster? How have I garnered her affection? What have I done?”
We also get to learn a bit about the side characters: Mars, Kyn, and Hyla. Although they were at times baffling and frustrating (Mars especially) I did get attached to them. I loved how their stories and histories unfolded as the story went on. I felt their pain, anger, frustration and I was 100% rooting for the rebels by the end! I’m really keen to see how their characters will further develop. Another character we learn a lot about is Winter. She was a unique element to the story and I really liked how Dittemore breathed life into her character. Winter is a malevolent spirit that has turned the island of Layce into a snow-covered frozen “wonderland” out of jealousy and loneliness. She was definitely an interesting entity and nemesis and a well-formed character overall. There was no doubting her wickedness, but there were times I also pitied her because I understand how consuming loneliness can be.
“There is no yesterday, they say, only a thousand tomorrows.”
While I didn’t think the writing was bad, the main issue I struggled with was the world-building. The introduction to various elements of the world, the magic, and the histories and mythology felt very patchy; you would only get very small bits and pieces at a time and it made it difficult to form a cohesive understanding of the world. I’m still not 100% sure how the magic really works and I also don’t really have much of a clue about who the Majority are. From what I gather they’re the ruling class and biggest threat aside from Winter, but where did they come from? Why are they so powerful? How come Winter doesn’t control them? I kept hoping that things would be further explained, and while I did understand some things better by the end, I still wished it was done better.
TL;DR: A fast-paced and overall well-written fantasy that has some unique plot and character elements that I enjoyed. The world-building was a bit of a struggle and I had issues with the main character, but I appreciated her growth in the end. I also really liked many of the side characters and their humorous provided much-needed relief between the heavier action-packed scenes. The reveals at the end, although not unpredictable, have me curious to see where the story will go next and I’m looking forward to it!
Have you read Winter, White and Wicked or is it on your TBR?