by Jessica Leake
Published on April 9, 2019 by HarperTeen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore.
When Katya loses control of her power to freeze, her villagers banish her to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.
Expecting punishment, she is surprised to find instead that Sasha is just like her—with the ability to summon fire. Sasha offers Katya friendship and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.
But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies are organizing an army of people bent on taking over the entire world.
Together, Katya’s and Sasha’s powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will Katya and Sasha lose everything they hold dear?
Inspired by Russian mythology, this lushly romantic, intensely imaginative, and fiercely dramatic story is about learning to fight for yourself, even when the world is falling down around you.
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As the first book I’ve read by Jessica Leake, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Through the White Wood. I’d heard good things about the previous book (I believe they’re companions?) so I had somewhat high expectations for this one.
My initial impression reminded me a bit of reading The Cold is In Her Bones earlier this year, the blend of folklore with fiction, all while giving the feel of a magical history that our records forgot. On that front, I think this book excelled. This was a world I wanted to explore further, beyond Katya’s story.
That said, I think this storytelling style also distanced me from the characters. I lost the tension and combined with the slower pace of the story, I felt like I was being lulled into a fantasy-filled dream, the king that comes from listening to a tale before bed. Which isn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the characters didn’t show a desire to follow through with each decision so much as the plot prescribed it and they eventually came around. I found this especially true with Katya.
I kind of got a bit of a Frozen feel from Through the White Wood, and Katya’s struggle with questioning if she’s a monster or not.
Then everything became very predictable. The romance took center stage and I was never really behind it? Not that I might romance-centric stories but something seemed. . . off with Katya and Sasha’s relationship. Can’t put my finger on it.
And all this sounds like I didn’t like the book but, in truth, I did enjoy it ultimately. The setting held me captive in the story and I couldn’t help but go along with it. I’m not really sure how Through the White Wood compares to Beyond a Darkened Shore but I’m looking forward to finding out!