Of Wind and Winter by Danyelle Leafty, like the recent Frozen, is very loosely based on the tale of the Snow Queen. It was released several months before the film, however, and the story is not at all similar.
Nine-year-old Aneira was stolen from her family’s cottage in the middle of the night by Baba Yaga, an ancient witch she thought was only used to scare children into being good. The witch had a plan, and everything pointed to Aneira as the one who could help her accomplish it. While the plan initially sounded fairly simple to Aneira, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Leafty has a lyrical quality to her words that draws you right into the story and then gently weaves it around you, layer upon layer. I initially bought the book because I really liked the cover art (good covers really do sell books), though I had somewhat lower initial expectations for the story since the book is self published (or at least appears to be). I was very pleasantly surprised.
Aneira is a girl thrown into an impossible situation where she has to use her wits to keep from being eaten (or worse) by the various powerful magical beings she meets. Her mother taught her how to work hard and not give up, and she puts those traits to good use, surprising the magical denizens with her resilience.
The world Leafty weaves through the story has depth and goes far beyond what we see in this story (which is the first in a series, according to the cover). Each of the creatures and beings we meet along the way has a purpose, and each of them is unique and not necessarily what they seem at first glance. For example, while Aneira never meets the Moon, the Moon narrates the beginning of the book when Aneira is being taken from her home, giving a unique perspective on the actions of Baba Yaga.
I have no problem recommending Of Wind and Winter to anyone who is a fan of middle grade books, fantasy, adapted fairy tales, or just a good read. The story will pull you right at the beginning, and it doesn’t let go until the final page.
Release Date: April 25, 2013 (USA)
ISBNs: 1484162919 (9781484162910)
Publisher: Curious Leaf Press
Violence: 1 (some scary imagery)