Wednesday 14 July 2010

WINTERCRAFT by Jenna Burtenshaw

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.

I have to admit that I'm a book-cover fan, and although the cover for this book looks nice on the screen... it doesn't do it justice. It's got patterns on it that you can't make out properly, but when you hold it--nice!

Anyway, enough about the lovely cover. This is a YA fantasy book that I'd been looking forward to checking out, and it didn't disappoint.

Kate Winters lives in Morvane with her uncle. They have a small bookstore that does okay, and are left alone to do their business. Kate has a best friend called Edgar. He's shy, loyal, and helps out at the bookstore. Everything in her life is peaceful, even if she did lose her parents the last time wardens stormed the town.

And now, the wardens have returned. The day they storm into Morvane, Kate's peaceful life gets thrown into chaos. While hiding in the basement with her uncle and Edgar, she revives a dead bird by holding it in her hands. This gets the attention of Silas Dane. A man who isn't exactly alive, but wants one of the most powerful Skilled to help him out of his undead existence. And when he eventually gets his hands on Kate, the game of cat and mouse begins. Every time she gets away from him, Silas seems to be one step behind her. Until he gets her on the Night Train, and takes her to the graveyard city of Fume. Which is now being used by the High Council.

In Fume, Kate starts to realise that her life isn't as simple as she thought it was. She also comes to terms with the fact that her uncle has lied to her for years, in order to keep her safe. Although she doesn't know it, she's one of the Skilled and becomes a sought-after weapon. Because when the cunning Da'ru gets her hands on her, she wants Kate to find Wintercraft--a book that will give Da'ru the power she craves. But not if Silas gets to it first.

I really enjoyed this story. There seemed to be a new discovery at the turn of every chapter. The mythology, customs, and way of life was intriguing. I couldn't wait to find out what Silas wanted from Kate. I also thought that the interaction between Silas and Kate was unexpected. Her friendship with Edgar is only strengthened, even though he's got his own secrets and a past he wanted to escape. And she never gives up on her uncle, Artemis. Also, the scenes featuring the Veil are amazing.

Wintercraft is a refreshing, exciting, and very well written fantasy tale that takes the reader to a very unique place. The imagery was vivid, the characters interesting, and the story so intoxicating that even though Fume was so dangerous, I couldn't wait to return.

Yeah, I loved this book. It's packed with a whole lot of dangerous fun.

Wintercraft, June 2010, ISBN 978-075-537096-2, Headline Paperback (B)

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