***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Entangled Publishing.
An engrossing, complex, romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore or Maggie Stiefvater, set in a wholly unique world.
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, his interactions with Salome take her 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.
- The cover is haunting and majestic. The color is icy yet vibrant, the gaze fierce and full of secrets. There’s something so stunning about the contrast of color, the brightness of the snow, and the translucent figure. It’s otherworldly and her eyes so intense, they immediately draw you in.
- Between the whispered voices that haunt Salome’s every move and the creepy glimpses of a twisted woman, the descriptions are enough to give you chills, if not nightmares. The threats grate on Salome, making her doubt her sanity and question everything. Her fear of the winter is crippling. The combination of the voices and the memory of her past trauma make the dazzling white snow a thing of terror and danger. The snow breaks her, antagonizing her and prevents her from living her life in a way that isn’t marked by anxiety.
- Salome is a wonderful protagonist and one that I, as a YA reader have been searching for. She is not overly confident, she is not extremely brave, nor does she have a take charge attitude. She has fears and doubts, she is incredibly real and open. Her personality is shy, she has a very limited social sphere and it’s not because she’s insecure or unpopular but because she’s dealing with a past that won’t let her forget. Salome, when she comes out of her shell is passionate, smart, and playful. She’s not quick to pass judgment and cherishes her friends, she doesn’t have to be a powerhouse character, she’s simple in some ways and complex when it comes to her feelings. Salome’s embarrassment and lack of a filter when it comes to men is hilarious and so endearing, you can’t help but smile and cringe a little.
- The underlying plotline of the curse and the connection to the fae is sinister and not entirely unfounded. It puts into perspective how a hero is evaluated and raises more questions about the darker side of the both human and fae nature.
- There’s a love rectangle/square/quadrangle?. Each of the men have gorgeous looks and qualities that will make you fall for them but they also have huge flaws. The way it’s set up, it’s really up in the air who Salome will choose or whether she’ll pick any of them, at least until the halfway point or so.
- Nevin and Salome have instant chemistry. The heat between them is full of angst and longing. Nevin is kind of a jerk at times, he’s overly confident and says some harsh things but he’s romantic and seems to cherish Salome’s company in a way that transcends time and space.
- Gareth is a surprise. He’s smooth and full of these coy, teasing lines that will make you melt. He’s so much fun to read and brings a lighthearted happiness to a story that is dominated by shadows and terror. Gareth is a hero, he’s insanely masculine and makes Salome hyperaware of everything she is missing in her life. Gareth makes Salome want to take chances, to live, and love. Their friendship is so natural that it’s easy to forget that they haven’t known eachother for more than a year.
- Some of the plot elements were left unresolved.
- The greatest mystery unraveled abruptly and the battle scene lacked the sort of epic finality and uncertainty that spurs adrenaline-it fell a little flat. There wasn’t any elaborate detail, just a clash of swords and that’s about it.
- The beginning was really confusing. The italicized voices and Salome’s ability to hear them made it hard to determine what was reality and whether what Salome was seeing was actually happening.
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