Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Posted September 15, 2014 by lockhartbecca in Uncategorized / 8 Comments


Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy/Retellings
Format: ebook
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***

from Goodreads:
The clock chimes
midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is
not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a
double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in
self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human.
To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion
is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to
survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with
secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous,
seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave
Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark,
timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who
must learn to live without fear.

Oh my gosh you guys!!
*squeals with glee* Winterspell is
the best retelling I’ve read since Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. As it
should be, seeing as how I first heard about this book from Marissa Meyer
herself! I was at a book signing right after Cress came out
and Marissa was telling us about books that should be on our radar. She talked
about this one. As soon as I heard that it was a Nutcracker retelling, I was
sold. And the Queen of Retellings was saying that it was amazing? Count me
She was not kidding,
guys. This book was breath-taking, inspiring, unique, exciting, swoon-worthy.
It made me feel all the feels. It made me cry. It made me blush. It left my
emotions in a whirlwind of confusion. Okay, I need to calm down and get my
thoughts together. 
follows the story of Clara, a young girl whose mother just died. Her father is
involved in this mafia-esque organization called Concordia that has its claws
sunk into the city of New York. Battling with the grief over her mother’s
brutal murder and trying to keep her father from falling out of step with
Concordia, Clara is struggling. The only time she finds peace is when she’s
training to fight with her quirky Godfather, a toy-maker who befriended her
mother. There’s always been a statue of a man in his toy shop and Clara has
found comfort in this statue for many years now. Then on Christmas Eve, things
get crazy and she runs after her father, who is kidnapped and taken to a
strange land called Cane. 
This book was so unique
and different. I definitely saw all the inspiration that Claire Legrand took
from The Nutcracker, but this book was also so uniquely her own. There are
automations, fae, mages, and mash-ups of other awesome things. The
world-building was pretty fantastic. Claire does a great job of giving us
back-story on how Cane became the way it is, what happened to Nicholas (the
statue), and how Anise (the queen) became the way she is. 
Let’s talk about Anise
first. She’s the “bad guy” in this book. The evil Fae queen of Cane.
She’s slowly destroying the world with her dark magic and she’s enslaving and
humiliating the humans living there. But there is so much more to Anise. I have
never had an author make me feel for the villain like this one. I was just as
confused as Clara was. I was sucked in by this ethereal, slightly mad queen.
The author does a great job of showing us Anise’s vulnerable side, making us
truly feel for her. I felt connected to her. I felt bad for her. I cried for
her. She’s so twisted and cruel, but there’s a reason for that and I wanted to
reach into the book and hug her. 
Then there’s Clara.
Absolutely loved her. At first, she almost annoyed me though. She was very
concerned with how others perceived her, very shy about her body and looking in
the mirror, and kind of a shaking, trembling leaf of a girl. But she grows so
much in this book and turns into a strong, empowered young woman who can take
on the darkest of villains and truly make a difference in the world. 
Nicholas. I went from
liking him to hating him, to liking him, to loving him. Nicholas has a lot of
growing up to do as well. He’s not perfect and he has to work hard to become
the man he wants to be. But see, that’s what I loved about this book. None of
the characters were perfect. They all were quite flawed, but that made it so
much more fun to read about them developing, growing, and becoming better
I know this review is
super long and if you’re still with me, thanks for sticking around. But I just
have so much to say. One last thing and then I’ll wrap it up. This is a
standalone and this is
how you write a freaking standalone. Not only was every single character
fleshed out and fully developed, not only was the world-building well-done and
believable, but everything was also tied up perfectly. Neatly and left with a
great sense of hope for Clara and knowing where she is and where she is going
with her life. All I can say is perfection. Read it, read it, read it! Claire
Legrand has definitely just made my list of favorite authors and I will most
definitely be checking out her other stuff. Happy reading all! 
Have you read this book
yet? Because you should! If you have read it, tell me what you thought. Were
you as thrilled with this world and the characters? Did you feel for Anise like
I did? 

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8 responses to “Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

  1. I loved this book too! It was such a creative retelling of The Nutcracker, and I love how it retained all the main points of the original (much like The Lunar Chronicles).
    If you haven't already, you should read the novella- Summerfall. It gives you even more backstory in terms of the world and politics, and it's the story of how Anise's parents met! 🙂

  2. I'm so excited to read this book after reading your review!! And the fact that it's a stand-alone makes me very happy. I've been loving fantasy books lately and this one sounds sooooo good. Great review! ~Pam

  3. OMG! I'm saving this one for December. I think it will be a lovely read with the Christmas tree up and glowing in the background. 🙂

    I'm so glad to hear that you loved it so much! Plus name dropping Marissa Meyer will almost always convince me. 😉

  4. Claire Legrand was on a panel at the teen author carnival before BEA! I remember hearing her talk about winterspell and thinking I WANT THIS. And I'm so happy you loved it! It seriously sounds amazing. I'm glad it came out well as a standalone too!! Yay I can't wait!

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