Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

WinterspellTitle: Winterspell

Author: Claire Legrand

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 30, 2014

Series: Standalone (I think).

Genre: YA, Fantasy retelling

Source: Purchased

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Seriously, I loved this story, the heroine, the world, just everything. This might turn into a long review, so to that I tell you: sorry, not sorry. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

After her mother is brutally murdered, seventeen-year-old Clara Stole is determined to find out what happened to her. Her father, a powerful man with little integrity, is a notorious New York City gang lord in the syndicate-turned-empire called Concordia. And he isn’t much help.

But there is something even darker than Concordia’s corruption brewing under the surface of the city, something full of vengeance and magic, like the stories Clara’s godfather used to tell her when she was a little girl. Then her father is abducted and her little sister’s life is threatened, and Clara accidentally frees Nicholas from a statue that has been his prison for years. Nicholas is the rightful prince of Cane, a wintry kingdom that exists beyond the city Clara has known her whole life.

When Nicholas and Clara journey together to Cane to retrieve her father, Clara encounters Anise, the queen of the faeries, who has ousted the royal family in favor of her own totalitarian, anti-human regime. Clara finds that this new world is not as foreign as she feared, but time is running out for her family, and there is only so much magic can do…

1. Anyone who has seen the Nutcracker ballet has weird feelings about Drosselmeyer…

In the Nutcracker, Drosselmeyer is Clara’s godfather and is the one who brings her the Nutcracker. In essence, he is the crutch of the story. If not for him and his magical gift, there would have been no story. This is the same for Winterspell. However, in the ballet, Drosselmeyer always creeped me out for some reason. He just had that vibe about him. In this book, though, he is a bad ass. He teaches Clara to fight for herself and essentially turns her into a weapon in a time where women were meek and subservient. He teaches her to believe in herself and to never depend on others for her survival or her happiness. There is a point in the book where Clara gets mad at Drosselmeyer, and I kept telling her not to be mad at him. I know, I’m weird.

2. Clara starts out as a girl who is scared of everything, but by the end, she is this strong heroine with no traces of that girl you see in the beginning.

At first, I loved Clara. The first couple of chapters make you fall in love with her, especially because she is so skilled at fighting and sneaking – two things no woman in the 1800s would ever think to practice. As soon as she’s faced with Dr. Victor and Mrs. Plum, however, her bravery vanishes. She transforms into this meek child who forgets all of her godfather’s training. She forgets that she could murder Dr. Victor (who is super creepy and not to mention extremely cruel) with a flick of her wrist. He has no idea who he’s dealing with. By the end, though, she becomes the strong woman I wanted her to be and that made me SO happy.


This book sucked when it came to figuring out who to trust. First you trust Nicholas, then you don’t, then you trust what Drosselmeyer says, then you don’t. THEN you trust Anise, THEN YOU DON’T. It’s horrible for my brain. I could not figure out who to trust and I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out who I could trust!

4. There are faeries, and they have different rules. At least, different from what I’ve seen.

The faeries in this book are extremely cruel. They’re led by an evil queen named Anise who basically brainwashes the human population into having Stockholm Syndrome. I am used to some faerie rules like that they cannot tolerate iron. That machinery makes them weak. But these faeries THRIVE on iron and machinery and building. When Nicholas and Clara get to the city, everything has been industrialized. It is the humans here who were resistant to machinery. I thought this was interesting since ever author and book has different fairy rules.

5. Now, to the issue of Queen Anise.

Don’t kill me, but I like the evil queen. She keeps her subjects stoned on a substance called sugar, which I took to be something like meth or speed. She supplies it and runs it and takes it away as she sees fit. When Clara spends time with her, I actually started to like her. She is so lonely, and she’s kind of sad. Once you found out about the atrocities committed against her people, you can’t really blame her for the way she treats humans after she takes over. I know everyone will probably hate me for this, but I felt BAD for her! She’s so sad! Don’t hate me. You’ll probably feel bad for her, too.

OVERALL: 5 stars!!! I know I didn’t tell you much, and that was by design. There was too much I could potentially give away as spoilers, and I always want to avoid that. However, this book was so insanely fun and snagged me immediately, even from page one. Do yourself a favor and go read this NOW! Click the link below to order!

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

  1. emilynelson89 says:

    I have been debating this one. Like I hear so many good things, but I have also heard some not so fabulous things and I just can never decide if I should add it to my list and give it a try or not. But you have definitely convinced me to add it to my list! I just now need to get my hands on it…

  2. missprint says:

    Yessssssssssss. I spent a lot of time with this one because I read it while I was quite ill in February (aka it took me forever to finish it). It’s one of those delightfully layered books that I could just talk about forever and one that I keep finding new things to consider or appreciate the more I think about it.

    This book also reminded me a lot of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas–except I loved this one and would say that Winterspell is the better executed/fleshed out/more enjoyable of the two.

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