It took me way too long to get my hands on this book, I’m just ashamed of myself. I absolutely adored Beyond a Darkened Shore and was worried Through the White Wood wouldn’t live up to its predecessor. It didn’t pack as big of a punch as BaDS but I did still really enjoy the book. Perhaps a reread of BaDS would make me more hyped and ready for TtWW.
Katya’s power to freeze anything she touches has made her an outcast in her isolated village. And when she loses control of her ability, accidentally killing several villagers, she is banished to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.
At the castle, though, she is surprised to find that Sasha is just like her—with his own strange talent, the ability to summon fire. Instead of punishment, Sasha offers Katya friendship, and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.
But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies have organized their own army of people who can control the very earth. Bent on taking over the entire world, they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed everything.
Katya and Sasha are desperate to stop the encroaching army, and together their powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, leaving destruction in their wake, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will they lose everything they hold dear?
I’m somewhat conflicted about this book. I loved the fantastical elements set against the (mostly) true historical setting. In fact, those two aspects were probably my favorite parts of the book. I did have some issues with the characters, but the rich story helped me through those issues. I’m a sucker for Viking/Slavic/Russian setting and magic (of course!) so combining these elements is a surefire way to get me to read a book.
So, let’s start with the plot! It honestly didn’t feel pressing enough to me. I wasn’t bored with it by any means, but I never really feared that things wouldn’t work out in the end. And even though most books usually have a happy ending, I do like having those moments where I think, “wait a second, will it have a happy ending??”. I never had that feeling during this, and even the big climax didn’t get my blood pumping.
Even though the main plot wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, I did enjoy some of the smaller character conflicts. I liked figuring out Katya’s backstory and watching her come to terms with her powers. I liked watching her grow close to some of the secondary characters. All in all, I liked the idea of Katya and her arc. That being said, I didn’t exactly love Katya herself. I didn’t not like her, but I think she could have been more well-rounded and fleshed out.
The same goes with Prince Alex. I honestly can’t tell you too much about him. His protective nature sometimes came across as possessive and too controlling which was uncomfortable to read, especially since Katya didn’t do anything about it. I liked him just fine, but there were a couple instances when this happened and I’m not sure how I feel about him.
The cameos made by the Beyond a Darkened Shore duo were amazing and my favorite character is probably Elation, the eagle. I don’t know what this says about the book, but there you have it.
So it seems like this would be a huge suckfest of a book with how many negative things I’ve said about it but the entire atmosphere of the book did have me hooked. I wish the characters and main plot had been more developed but the fantastical/historical setting helped these aspects seem more importantly developed.
With a little extra revising, I think this could have been a fantastic book. As it is, it’s a good book. There were good and not-so-good parts of the book, which I found very surprising since I thought Beyond a Darkened Shore was amazing. Like I mentioned earlier, a reread of that might have made this book better, especially with the cameos some of the characters made.
I’d still recommend reading these for a pretty solid duo of fantasy books with some real historical elements mixed in. They have their flaws, but they’re still a pretty fun read.
Have you read these? How do you think they compare?