Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Winterspell by Claire Legrand eARC (1 star)

18 comments
I should have known to stay away the second I thought the girl on the cover resembled Kristen Stewart. Claire Legrand's Winterspell is essentially Twilight meets True Blood with a hint of Frozen and Narnia. Honestly, if I knew the book was going to head in the direction it did, I would not have requested it.

Fair warning: there are spoilers below. I usually try to avoid spoilers, but I can't talk about why the story failed for me without them. And I imagine there are others who, like me, did not guess at where this story was going from the synopsis and would like to know before reading.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
Published on September 30, 2014
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 1 star

Synopsis:
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Review:
What I Liked:
  • Bo, the blue-haired child pickpocket and tech genius, and the somewhat creepy Godfather Drosselmeyer are decent enough characters, though both had limited screen time.

What I Didn't Like:
  • Approximately 85% of the story is about Clara's sexual awakening. I understand it's supposed to be about her growing into her own person, being self-confident, letting go of fear, etc., but that's not how it read.
  • The amount of nudity and revealing clothing was laughable. Had the writing spent half as much time describing the world and its history as it did describing how much skin Clara and everyone else was showing, I might have liked the setting.
  • The romance/sexual awakening kills the pacing. One short action scene will be followed by fifty pages of slow, repetitive, emotional inner struggle and/or noticing how pretty and/or naked everyone is.
  • There is a love triangle between Clara, the prince and the evil queen. The latter two like Clara. I have no idea why. She's almost as useless and twice as stupid as Bella most of the time, so it's basically Twilight with a lesbian twist. (Toward the end, the author seemed to backtrack on the lesbian element with Clara focusing on how they were in similar situations and could have been friends. Before, Clara was constantly thinking how beautiful Anise was and they slept curled up together (naked, of course) and made out.)
  • The romance/relationship between Clara and Anise is awkward and severely uncomfortable. It's unhealthy and abusive and not something I wanted to read. It takes up at least a third of the book.
  • Clara is a triple threat. She has an extra helping of (Elsa-like) "special-ness" in addition to her random cat burglar/ninja skills (which she rarely puts to use); she lusts after inanimate objects; and she's not bright. At all. Prime example: should I a) try to seduce the evil queen so she'll tell me where my father is, b) get queen drunk so she'll tell me where my father is, or c) kill her while she sleeps since we're in the same bed? Take a guess.
  • Clara does nothing useful for most of the book. She's busy being confused by all these new feelings, half of which are probably the result of the sugar drugs she's been chugging.
  • One of the big themes of the story is the horror of war and the idea that nothing is pure black and white, right and wrong. The portrayal of the evil queen and her empire killed any sympathy I had for the faeries. I never cared about Nicholas either, so I would have been happy with the whole country exploding.
  • The ending is acceptable. Rushed and way too easy, but I think it will satisfy most readers.
  • Moral of the story: being a strong, brave, capable young woman means abandoning modesty, self-control and common sense in favor of being a nudist. :)

Final Thoughts:
The beginning didn't grab me and gave me severe doubts regarding Clara. The middle was horrible: the pacing and plot died, the MC was a mess, and the relationships were just uncomfortable. Winterspell remembered it had a plot at the end and finally did something about it, but it was too little too late. I know there are readers who will enjoy Legrand's twist on The Nutcracker, but I cannot recommend it. I liked the Barbie movie better.

18 comments :

  1. There is no doubt that the cover artist had Twilight on while drawing that up. The similarities are too obvious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking at it now, the face almost reminds me more of the girl from "Warm Bodies," but either way, not an enjoyable read. On top of everything else, there's a makeover scene. :P

      Delete
  2. "I should have known to stay away the second I thought the girl on the cover resembled Kristen Stewart. "

    LOL! This book sounds like a mess. Although I think "his haunted eyes burn with secrets" in the synopsis already had my haunted eyes rolling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! If it had stayed in clichéd eye rolling territory, it might have gotten 2 stars. Unfortunately, it veered too far into the realms of frown, grimace and aghast. :(

      Delete
  3. I read your review in spite of the possible spoilers because, let's face it: seeing the one star review and glancing at my TBR pile leads to the understanding that I would never get to this book. And after reading through your review: nope. If the Barbie movie is better, than it is a pass!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Barbie movie had the ballet music and dancing, and a Mouse King! You can't compete against that, right? ;)

      I'm glad you found the review helpful. Not everyone likes spoilers, but I hope this batch of them helps save at least one or two readers a frustrating read.

      Delete
  4. HAHAHAAHAHAAHA yeah I ended up giving this one two stars. Even though I thought I liked it when I finished, I was writing my review and was like, dang, I just went on a huge rant. My review is so not-positive lol - but two stars, instead of one. Excellent review, Kel!!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, you should have seen my notes on this one before I edited them down to resemble some level of civility. ;) Thanks! I can't wait to read your review!

      Delete
  5. Ooookay. . . .This WAS on my September to-buy list, but the Clara/Anise thing has totally put me off buying it. Wow. . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might as well spend the money on something you're more likely to enjoy, right? :)

      Delete
  6. Yikes! I'm sorry you didn't like this book. I've heard lots of mixed things about it and the flaws seem like way too many to make this book enjoyable. Thanks for the great and honest review; I'll be steering clear of this book!

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome! I had a feeling I wasn't the only one looking for clarity on Winterspell, and I'm glad to save others a frustrating trudge through it. :)

      Delete
  7. *sings* and another down and another one down, another one bites the Kel dust ...yaaaaa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I love it! So catchy! Actually, I was really tempted to tweet #anotheronebitesthedust and/or #goingdowninflames while reading this, but I was afraid it would sound too mean. ^^;;

      Delete
  8. Thank you for clarifying this for me! I'm glad you broke it down. This book is not at all for me. And I agree, the summary says NOTHING about the triangle. Plus one that is creepy with an evil character? Ick. I will not be reading this one now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome! I was ridiculously ticked off when the love triangle popped up midway through with no prior warning, so I'm glad to give everyone else a heads up. :)

      Delete
    2. Ha! I thought I was the only one that thought she looked like Bella, lol! I've been seeing lots of mixed reviews about this book. It's too bad because I really wanted to read this. Hmm, maybe I'll get it at the library. Thanks for a funny, well put review!

      Delete
    3. You are very welcome! Getting it from the library isn't a bad idea. I do that with most new books these days. :)

      Delete