Friday, May 14, 2010

Edi's Spotlight: Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw

Hi and welcome to a Bona book review. ediFanoB is too tired. Sometimes it happens. We received an ARC of Wintercraft (May 13th, 2010, 278 p.) [ISBN-13: 978-0755370962], the debut novel of Jenna Burtenshaw - Thanks to Maura Brickell from headline.
"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..."[Source]
The plan was to read and review Wintercraft before publishing date (13th of May 2010). But we failed. In a "heroic" attempt I read the book in one day and now I write this review with the fresh impressions in mind.
Don't get me wrong. It is possible to read Wintercraft in one day. There are several reasons for it:
Just 278 pages (40 pages per hour = approximately 7 hours).
The story is not too complex.
The speech is without seldom used words and phrases
And I don't belong to the target audience. But I still remember my young adult years.

There has been some hype around Wintercraft. A trailer, a website, Jenna's blog, Jenna on twitter. A lot of activity which has to be done nowadays to arouse some interest. And does deserve so many activities? The tersely answer is YES.

278 pages does not leave much space for worldbuilding. Therefore I must say that Jenna Burtenshaw delivers a good job with her description of the main locations. It is clever to sketch the world beyond the Albion within a few sentences. Of course the locations are important and I think the descriptions of these locations is detailed enough to create your own picture in your brain.
All in all the characters, their thinking and their abilities are much much more important. I must admit that during my reading I had to suppress th wish to shout at Kate and Edgar: "You are stupid! Why do you do that??"
You need to know that two of the main characters in this case Kate and Edgar are only 15 and 17 years old.
That makesmost of their actions understandable. Furthermore they are more or less permanently under pressure.
How would we act in a situation like this? Permant pressure means mainly action - and there is a lot of fast paced action - and emotional blackmail.
When we talk about characters then there is no way out to mention Silas Dane. He is awesome and obscure. I can't remember when I met such an emotionless character. He is a real iceberg. Beside this Silas Dane is by far the most interesting character for adult readers. For me he is the secret star of Wintercraft.

Jenna's style is fluently and gripping. I was not that easy to put down the book in order to eat and drink something.
Story wise we don't get many twists and turns. Most of the development is obvious. But you never know how Jenna will solve critical situations in detail. She delivers a satisfying end which leaves enough space for further installments.
Wintercraft is the title of the book and at the same time the name of a family and the name of a book in the book.
And before I forget, there is magic and paranormal effects but there are no vampires, dragons, elves and dwarves.

I think young adults will love Wintercraft.
With main characters at their age - Katie, 15 years and Edgar 17 years, a gripping story, a world mixed of gothic elements, medieval traces and trains, fast paced action and dark moments Wintercraft is a book, which you will not put down.

The most interesting concept for adults will be the awesome and obscure character Silas Dane.
I know that this the first book in a trilogy. I instantly hope that Silas Dane will appear again.

I know authors and publishers like catchy phrasing. But that is not that easy. Here is my result:

Wintercraft is young, fresh fantasy
with a trace of darkness,
packed with emotion and action.

Read it, don't eat it!
Don't stay away, devour is okay!


Simcha said...

This sounds like an interesting book but I'm not much of a YA reader either and often have a hard time relating to overly young protagonists. I think I'll hold off on this one.

ediFanoB said...

I'm not much of a YA reader either. But I think Jenna Burtenshaw did a good job. Good enough, that I read the whole book. And as I said, Silas Dane is an interesting character especially for adults.
You neither belong to the target audience like me. So I can understand why you want hold off.
In case you know young adults who like to read fantasy it would be kind to tell them about WINTERCRAFT. It is good!

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