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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

MG Review: Wintercraft Series

I've done this series review thing a couple times now and I enjoy it even if no one else does, and since I've already actually reviewed the first book in this series before, I thought it would be more interesting to do it this way. This might actually be posted on a day that's not a Monday because I have a bunch of scheduled posts and I think we might have to do more than just Monday posts. Let's try it for now!

Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw (also called Shadowcry in the US)

Published: May 13th, 2010 by Headline Publishing
Genre: Fantasy MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 278
Part of a series? I mean obviously.
Got via: They sent it to me sometime after I reviewed the ARC. Kind of showed up out of the blue.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Ten years ago Kate Winters' parents were taken by the High Council's wardens to help with the country's war effort.

Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane - the High Council's most feared man - recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council's experiments into the veil, and he's convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace.

The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft - a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft.

Review: I didn't have a computer to look up my old review of this, but I think I liked it. I don't want to read my old review until I've finished typing this up because I'm weird like that. Rereading it, I did enjoy it. I just didn't love it. I'm not sure if it's more kind of a genre thing where I'm learning I'm not really a big reader of this type of fantasy, or if it's more the book, but that's where I am.

The beginning especially has a lot of background and it's a fairly heavy info dump. Since this isn't my absolute favourite genre to begin with, that doesn't help me out so much with not getting a little lost. It may pretty typical for the genre, but it doesn't work for me. I mean, Kate wakes up in the first chapter and describes herself in a mirror. That's a little stereotypical. And speaking of typical, I think the dynamic between Edgar and Kate is very, very typical for this genre, and I don't think it really does anything special with their friendship. I wish Kate had had more female friends... or any female friends... or more good feale characters in general.

To be honest, I remembered almost nothing about reading this the first time, and I don't think this is an overly memorable book. At the end of the day, it's good and I have no glaring problems to point out besides some ableist language that doesn't seem necessary, but it never wowed me.

If you're a big fantasy fan, or know a kid who is (although sensitive readers may want to know there's a lot of on-screen death), I'd say this is fine, but not outstanding.

On to the next!

Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

Published: It was originally published April 1st, 2011 by Headline Publishing, this edition was released June 26th 2012 by Greenwillow Books.
Genre: MG Fiction
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 310 pages
Part of a series? Duh.
Got via: The library which is why this cover is different from the other two. I know. It bugs me, too. We just have to deal with it.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): "Deliver Kate Winters and be spared.”

Kate is the one person gifted enough to work the magic held in the ancient book of Wintercraft. And everyone wants her, either to lock her up or to use her as the ultimate weapon. Her rare power is being able to walk freely through the veil between life and death, and she cannot control it.

Hunted by the Blackwatch -- the elite assassins of the enemy -- and by her own people, Kate flees deep into tunnels beneath the graveyard city. And she is still inextricably linked to the murderer and traitor Silas Dane, who has crossed the ocean and walked straight into the enemy's hands.

As the Blackwatch closes in, Kate and Silas will face terrors that only they can keep from destroying Albion. And time is running out.

Review: I'm going to be honest (as always) - I read this over a week ago and I just didn't feel like writing the review of it. This one is more engrossing than the first, but it still never screamed "Read Me!" There's thankfully less world-building via info dumping, but it does play a fair amount of catch-up at the beginning and I'm kind of meh about that. It's not done badly, but it doesn't draw me into the beginning of the book.

I think my biggest complaint, though, is that not a whole lot actually happens. Kate gets chased by bad guys a lot and... mostly that's it. There are obviously a few important plot elements, but it feels like a lot of filler.

It's pretty much just fine. I didn't dislike it, but it didn't do much for me. And these days, I want books to wow me!

Legacy by Jenna Burtenshaw (Also called Winterveil in the US)

Published: May 10th, 2012 by Headway
Genre: MG Fantasy
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 280 pages
Part of a series? I guess I should say it is just a trilogy.
Got via: It was also sent to me for review consideration. No, not the second book. Yes, that's two copies of the first book, one of the third, none of the second. Yeah, I found that pretty amusing, too.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The veil which marks the division between life and death is falling. Lost souls are seeping through to roam Albion's graveyard city of Fume. Kate Winters' recent memory is lost.

Relieved to be heading home to Albion, Kate can't shake the feeling that Dalliah Grey, the woman she's supposed to be working for, is not to be trusted. Disgraced warrior Silas Dane plans to rescue Kate and save Albion from the advancing armies seeking to profit from the confusion. But the veil will not be easy to repair and Silas knows sacrifices have to be made. Kate must return to the dark secrets detailed by her ancestors in the ancient book of Wintercraft and learn from their mistakes to save herself.

Review: Again, this one was just kind of fine. It opens with a random new POV who immediately dies. And I'm really not a fan of that. It feels like it's just a way to brag about how awesome your characters are. Otherwise, there's not much new from the first two books. It wraps up the series well, but it doesn't do too much forme. I don't even really have that much to say. It kinda feels like I'm just finished and I want to move on now and I hate saying something like that, but it's unfortunately true.

Really, I just... don't have anything else to say about this book.

Series wrap-up: Wintercraft is a decent middle grade fantasy series. I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I finished the series. However, it feels fairly standard for the genre, and because the genre is not my favourite to start with, I don't think I would reread it. While enjoyable, it doesn't stand out as particularly special or really very memorable. I think others could definitely enjoy it more, so I think I'll pass this one along. I have too many books, like way too many, and I don't need to keep books I don't love or want to reread, so I'm probably going to pass these alongs to someone else.

Other notes:

- I saw someone ask recently if adult POV could work in modern middle grade and YA books. I said I thought it could, but only in MG and not YA. The Wintercraft series is probably at least 40% or more adult POV and it works fine. However, there is some headhopping that does not work.

- If you ever see characters named Laina in books, they might actually be named after me. I certainly volunteer my name enough! There's one in the second and third books and I'm not actually sure if it is or not? Probably not, but there are a few out there that are!

- If you must read my old review of this, here's a link. Bear in mind it's six years old. I was eighteen. Whoa.

Okay, I think that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed this!

Peace and cookies,

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