(Middle Grade Fantasy)
By Nick Green
Having gone to another school, Anna feels her old friendships fading when a thick snow covers her town, which means only one thing—no school! On this simple, snow day, she rejoins her old friends, only to find herself the outsider until she stumbles upon young Jack—the god of winter. After that, her world is anything but simple.
When it comes to the writing, well, I’m split. Hopefully, you’ll see why. First, the basic narration and description are amazing and inventive, drawing up images of the winter wonderland in exquisite detail. Check it out.
There came a sound. A sort of fizzle, like an ice lolly wrapper peeling off.
Many rooftops sported plumes of steam, ghostly flowers blooming from boiler vents and blown to shreds wherever Jack’s snowboard passed.
Succinct and powerful—as description should be. However, this is where the problem arises. First off, some scenes were too overly wrought. This fault has gotten the best of us—myself included. Wanting to elaborate to have the scene set just right is a guilty pleasure all authors indulge, but the next point is where I have a disconnect.
The author masterfully depicts his world in complex ways and yet his characters speak in almost a babyish manner. This dichotomy is most of the time jarring and completely takes me out of reading. True, children speak in childish ways, but then the world should be filled in such a manner as well, not strong blocks of the outer world, only to be shelved next to weak, repetitive dialogue. See for yourself.
‘Those, um.’ Jasmine hesitated too. ‘Those amazing snowballs. How did you, er?’
‘They were like magic, weren’t they?’ said Anna.
‘…Oi, what do you mean, you hate winter?’
‘I don’t mean you, I think you’re lovely…’
Besides the mismatch of language, I had a large problem with one certain character in particular among the many strong ones.
Among the ones I liked, the menacing Kimberly who harassed our Anna was wonderful—needing no cause for her malice—though this was ruined later with some small explanatory note. Overall, even the imagined gods for each season were well done and imaginative.
The character that bothered me the most was the dog, Caspar. In the beginning, we are told he has only three legs, making him unique and this was one sole reason Anna loved him. In this way, it felt like the dog was important to the plot and he tagged along regularly on all the adventures, but really played little role. I question if he was necessary at all, and most of the time, things would’ve run along much smoother if he were not.
The full story was delightful and moved swiftly after a bumpy start. The first chapter gave a good feel of Anna, but, in my opinion, was not needed. Also, the mention of her parents here and there seemed unneeded. Keeping the main focus on Anna and her exploits would’ve made the story stronger, but as I said, there was little deviation after the beginning.
Another thing to note was the ending. The author pulled a little trick on us—one most MFA programs warn authors to avoid—and I feel here, too, it cheapens events in the story, or, at least, detracts from the course of events’ impact.
This book is well imagined. I loved the play on old concepts and the constant upping of conflict in young Anna’s world. There are times of fun and stress that are well written. However, overall, small things, like the mismatch in tone for dialogue and description, and the resolve of the plot at the end, undercut the strengths in this work. Besides that, it was a fast, simple read. Young ones would clearly enjoy it.
To find this book, click here.
Unfortunately, I have no record of a website for the author.