Friday, February 11, 2011

YA book review: Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner

** Our April Book of the Month **
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011)

Summary: The war has been over for 40 years, and finally Liza's town is accepting children born with fairy talents. Then a nearby town is destroyed, and Liza discovers that the war might not be over after all. It seems some faeries survived and have crossed over into the human world to continue the fight. And the most powerful and merciless of them all—the Queen herself—may be among them...

Liza is a Summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and to rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and Faerie, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent. Even the evergreens’ branches are bare. Winter crops won’t grow, and the threat of starvation looms. And deep in the forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

Our review: Simner has crafted such a satisfying and full conclusion to her Bones of Faerie novel I'm still in Lizzy's town as I write my review. The bulk of the story takes place after the first book where Liza's world is stuck in an never ending winter. Many are wondering if spring will ever return. The War between the Fey and the humans ended 40 years ago but both worlds are still suffering from it. One group suffers more in particular--the children--they are called the Afters, kids born after the War and many have magical abilities kept secret since many adults are fearful of them and of magic. There are new characters, including a firestarter named Ethan, whom Liza and Matthew find one morning. This novel was stunning, multi-layered, and kept me thinking. I didn't want to put it down. Liza's character has grown and matured into a more confidant young woman. Her ability to work with shadows and free them was fascinating.

Simner's dystopian world is a dark, disturbing look at a post apocalyptic landscape where the earth suffers from the after effects of man made materials. The children born after this are simply called Afters but that is where any simplications end. These children have magical powers which many adults fear and in the first book we learned of Liza, a Summoner, afraid to use her power. After her learning to use her power and subsequent undertaking an important journey to faerieland to rescue her mother, Tara, and Tara's fey ex-boyfriend, Caleb, she has returned a hero. But under Lizzy's skin she is still learning and uneasy about herself. Faerie Winter shows us her transformation as she grapples with dark forces to save the lives of her friends and herself. Meanwhile, some of the fey have given up on their race's misuse of humans, instead opting to help the ones they once considered enemies. One such fey, Elin, cannot understand why her own kind can hold humans in a higher regard than their own race.

The addition of brothers Johnny and Kyle truly opened this story up by allowing Liza to
understand the importance of the Afters' unique abilities. Youngster Kyle will weave his way into your heart. Despite Matthew having spent much of the story in his wolf form there is still a way for some tender romantic scenes between him and Liza. I was happy to see Caleb's sister, Karin, return and share so many moving scenes with Liza. Fans of Bones of Faerie will not be let down. I wasn't. For me this novel is a keeper. Thank you Ms. Simner.

Favorite excerpt: "There remains a part of me that wishes you would return to my town and be safe." Karin pressed an ivy leaf between her fingers. "And there is a part of me that knows too much is at stake to refuse your help. Even so, I'll not have you face the Lady again without your consent. This began long before you were born. It is not your battle."

She was wrong about that. "The Lady has threatened my town, and my mother, and my--and Matthew. She has threatened all that I hold dear." I was proud of how my voice held steady. "It doesn't matter how this began. It is my battle, and I will not run from it."

Karin looked away from my gaze. "It is hard, sometimes, to believe you are Tara's daughter." She shook her head, as if regretting the words. "I welcome your help on this journey."" (From page 163, ARC edition.)

Rating: ++++1/2

Cover comment: Just like the first one, dark and simple and yet deceptively powerful. The image of the snowflake stands for so much but you don't realize that until you've read the book.

Book source: Book It Forward/Dark Faerie Tales tours


  1. I'd never heard of this one before, thanks for reviewing it!

  2. This book sounds amazing! Thanks for reviewing it. I'm definitely looking for this book once it hits shelves.

    - Jackie