Welcome to the first in hopefully an ongoing series of Sunday book/single reviews, which I hope to trade off with Six-Sentence Sunday. I haven’t written a whole lot of reviews, and this week’s review is my first for Amazon, but I’m finding it incredibly enjoyable, so I figured “why not?”.
This week’s review comes from next week’s interview subject, Marie Loughin, and is a Kindle Single called “Rose in Winter”. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
New to the court of Aerovale, Rosabel Damask dreams of finding acceptance and belonging among the nobles of the land. But just as her deepest, most secret wishes seem to be coming true, a stranger arrives with the wind and the frost. Now Rosabel must choose between fulfillment of everything she has ever hoped for and a mystery that promises so much more.
This fairy tale first appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XXI, edited by Diana Paxton.
Full disclosure: I’m not usually into romantic stories; in fact, my reaction to the moment that characters’ eyes meet across a crowded room involves my eyes as well – they roll. I’ve had enough of these experiences in real life and had these relationships turn out to be more harm than good that I’m immediately suspicious of these magical moments. Still, in Rose in Winter, it works because it makes sense. Ms. Loughin’s evocative use of language (she is a very strong writer, plotting aside) weaves a fantasy world where these sorts of encounters are par for the course. In the real world, these encounters often mean something else psychologically – but in the world of Rose in Winter, a world of elaborate court ritual, the sort of world we see in the Cinderellas and Snow Whites of the world, it could never happen any other way.
So it works when the trickster Spindleshanks first appears and the protagonist sees her future in his eyes. Against my own will, I found myself having to learn what happened next, and enjoyed every step of the way. This is a spoiler-free review, but the choice made at the end of the story seems like the sort of things that fans will debate endlessly – the author even addresses it at the end. So be ready to be ambivalent!
Overall, worthy of five stars, and I do not give those out willy-nilly. The prose is top-notch, the characters live and breathe (for the most part – the king is a slight caricature but forgivable given the setting), and the plot arc is logical and satisfying, even if the ending troubles you.