Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Winterfrost and Moonkind

20708772Houts, Michelle. Winterfrost.
September 9th 2014 by Candlewick Pres
Copy received from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Bettina's family is thrown into confusion on Christmas day when her mother must rush off to take care of a her grandmother, who has fallen. Bettina's father was already on his way for an annual visit to a querulous elderly relative, so leaving Bettina alone with one year old baby Pia seems like the best idea-- the nearby Pedersens will look in on her and help her take care of all of the farm animals. Things go fairly well until Klakke, the barn nisse who has lived with Bettina's family since her birth, gets his red pointed cap in a bunch because the family forgot his Christmas bowl of rice pudding and starts to get mischevious. He puts rosemary in the goat feed, hides tools, and then in an inspired moment, steals baby Pia when she is left outside, which is apparently okay to do in rural Denmark and other Nordic countries.  Pia is in turn stolen again, and  it turns out that Klakke is involved in a family row with a relative named Ulf who used to work for Bettina's family, and once that is sorted out, he is willing to give Pia back, just in time for Bettina's parents to arrive home.
Strengths: This is a charming winter read, complete with great descriptions of the wintery Danish forest covered in frost as well as the warm and cozy nisse houses. This had the magical charm of a much older book, and I can imagine many of my readers who like magical realism wanting to run off and find nisse to visit.
Weaknesses: I was just appalled that Bettina would be left in charge of an infant while her parents run off, but younger readers will be fine with that detail. I didn't think that the nisse family problems made for an overly riveting tale, but the whole point of the book was more to be drawn into the world of the nisse.

Moonkind (Winterling, #3)Prineas, Sarah. Moonkind.
December 31st 2013 by HarperCollins

In this third book in the Winterling series, Fer stops briefly in our world to visit Grand-Jane, but goes back to Summerland quickly. The Lords and Ladies have broken their vows to give up their glamories, and a stilth is taking over the lands. Fer and Rook need to deal with this somehow, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. Rook wants to use the bit of magic spider web stuck to his hand to strip the glamories with the Lords' and Ladies' permission, but when he tries it on one, Fer is angry that the Lady is killed. She is also taken to a desolate island but manages to escape. At one point, she does back to visit her grandmother, only to find that she has taken ill and is a nursing home. Fer asked her grandmother to come back to the Summerlands with her, where by virtue of being human, she can help overtake the stilth. Fer realizes that the glamories are hard to give up, but the survival of the land is completely dependent upon the Lords and Ladies giving them up and going back to take care of their people and lands. Once she manages to convince them of this, and dissuades Rook from further violence, things do improve.
Strengths: I only had book one of this series, but readers were asking for the others, so I picked up the third at a book look and am ordering the second. I prefer this author's The Magic Thief, but this has some decent action and adventure as well as the requisite orphan saving the world from destruction.The covers are really pretty.
Weaknesses: Have to side with Rook on this one-- I think if the Lords and Ladies would have forcibly had their glamories removed, the land would have gone back to being right. There was very little pleasant adventure in this one-- saving the kingdom was a sad and unpleasant journey.  I also wanted to know what happened to her grandmother. She was just kind of abandoned and the book just ended abruptly. Maybe one more book is coming?

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