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Once again the evil Queen is the best part of a story.

Clara is investigating the death of her mother. She’s trying to keep her drunk father safe from the crime syndicate he’s been a part of and herself out of the hands of a mad Doctor who does experiments on orphan girls and that’s not even the well-developed or important part of the story. One night her father is kidnapped and taken through a portal to another land. She has to trust a man who used to be a statue (that she had a crush on) and follow him through to get her father back so that the syndicate can kill him otherwise they’ll kill her little sister. So Clara’s got a whole lot of problems and no one she can really trust.

This book is a loose retelling of the Nutcracker which I have to admit I’ve never seen but just beware there’s a bonding ceremony in which the couple cut each other naked, a bit of torture, some happy fun times with the Evil Queen oh and a scene in which a couple have to “perform” in front of a crowd to see if they’d be acceptable in an other world brothel. It doesn’t go far but the girl is definitely not into any of it.

Bad first: I thought this was way too flowery and overwritten. I almost never harp on stuff like that unless the story isn’t grabbing me so there’s that but seriously the things the air around Clara did all the time. It shuddered. It trembled. It vibrated and on and on. Clara is conflicted about everyone which is reasonable but so often it amounted to I love him, no I hate him and can’t trust him but I really love him until I just wanted to be like whatever Clara shut up and do something.

The love story is questionable as well. I didn’t buy it. Is it possible for book characters to have no chemistry?

Oh and least you think Clara’s just thrown into this with only her wits about her… No worries totally hidden heritage and magic powers come out. It’s a well used deal I know but I didn’t like Clara so it felt even staler.

There was some good stuff in Winterspell even for me. Once Queen Anise comes into the story it picks up and even Clara gets interesting. She’s suddenly thinking a little clearer. The scenes between the two have a good edge to them and I read through them quickly. Anise is an interesting character all by herself. The history that Anise imparts to her is more interesting than anyone else in the story has told her and would oddly make me want to read a prequel though I wouldn’t want to read a sequel.

Would I recommend it?  Eh. If you like this kind of thing and you’re in the right mood it’s good otherwise probably not.

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