Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: Winter's Shadow

Winter's Shadow by M.J Hearle
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy/Sci-fi
Sent to me from Pan Macmillan
Pages: 432
Release Date: 01/06/2011

Blake Duchamp...
He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.
But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.
The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself.

Author Information

M.J. Hearle became addicted to stories at a young age. It was somewhat inevitable that he eventually turned to dealing them himself. Winter's Shadow is his first novel.
I expected this book to be a typical Young Adult Paranormal Romance and when I began to read it appeared that I was right. However, nothing is as it appears and I was pleasantly surprised when the book started to take more of a science fiction turn from middle to end. While there is nothing wrong with a typical guy meets girl fantasy, it's nice and refreshing to read something that's a little bit different.

The writer's style was full of suspense as the reader was left hanging at the end of each chapter and thrown right into what was happening in the next one. This made for very short chapters which is handy if you are a busy person who likes to finish a chapter before putting your book down and going off to your next activity. Hearle used a lot of short descriptive phrases occasionally mixed in with longer ones which added plenty of atmosphere without lugging the reader down in nonsense. One of my favorite descriptions was "The Shadows of tree branches, thrown by the eerie half-light, stretched across the road like clawed hands"

This book reminded me a little bit of Vampire Diaries in the beginning. It had the whole mysterious other sibling thing going on complete with an old house, some crusty journals and some 19th Century Portraits. As much as I loved the character of Winter in the beginning and the fact that she was different to other heroines out there (not strikingly pretty), I was a little annoyed at the similarities and was scared as to what sort of Inspiration those books may have had on the author. But, like I said the novel did improve vastly and was so original and creatively written for the rest of the novel. I guess all books have to start off somewhere and the whole vintage victorian era feel is quite a popular one for Fantasy writer's use Nowadays. So what makes this author any different? I guess I can excuse him for doing the same thing as everyone else can't I.

SO.. Like i have said already the book really did get better. From the beginning I was hooked. Regardless of the cliche start I was really excited to read something about a character that seemed real. She had red hair and freckles and she wasn't exactly smart, but she wasn't dumb either. Winter was also a real snoop too. Which sounds pretty true to life. What's a teenager going to do if they are told not to do something? do it of course! And, that it what I really appreciated about this character. Also, she actually had emotions. I was so sick and tired of characters like Bella Swan whom never seemed to burst out in tears.

Of course there was the whole "He might harm her and he loves her" thing that is kind of typical in Paranormal Romances. This book though, really, literally was more true to that idea than any other book of this genre that I have ever read. I'm not going to tell you why though, because I don't want to spoil anything here. While Blake the male character has his own supernatural features I was actually really surprised to see that Winter too had hers, which is also rare in a lot of books of this genre. 

One thing that did bother me though was the mention of Wuthering Heights. I don't have anything against the book(I am yet to have read it, so I can't say anything bad), but I feel like a lot of author's are copying each other by mentioning it. There are so many other books that writers can mention in their novels such as The Great Gatsby, The Catcher In the Rye, The Scarlett Letter, The Picture of Dorian Grey etc... I was happy though, when the writer referred to Jane Eyre because I loved that book and don't seem to hear of writers including that title in their novels. 

The fact too that the danger in the novel could come from many different "sides" rather than just from the male protagonist or one male villain was new to me and made the novel seem more thrilling because there were so many possible outcomes that could have taken place. The ending too was surprising and still left some possibility of a continuation.

Overall I think this book is worth 4/5 Stars.  The only thing that really bothered me was the typical cliche Y.A Paranormal Romance stuff that I mentioned earlier. I think this is more of a problem that I have with a trend that writer's are following rather than a problem with this particular author. I thought this novel was a great debut and I would be very interested in reading anything written by him in the future. If you are looking for a quick read that is full of suspense and intrigue than I would definitely recommend this novel to you.

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MJ Hearle said...

Hi Natalie,
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I'm working on the sequel, Winter's Light, at the moment and I think you'll be happy to know it pushes the story further into uncharted YA territory. We're just a the beginning of Winter's adventures. I hope you stick around for the ride.

Natalievintagegirl said...

Thanks for reading my review. can't wait to read the sequel!