Author: Kate A. Boorman
Series: Winterkill, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 1 / 5
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Oh Winterkill, I was convinced I’d love you. Both the cover and the synopsis drew me in, and I was almost certain it would be added to my favourites list. I went into this story expecting a fabulous dystopian novel with a horror undertone, but it ended up being a confused mystery story that didn’t appeal to me at all. I spent more time trying to figure out what time period the book was set in than caring what was going on with the characters and the general story line. I’ll warn you now: this review may get a little ranty.
Every story needs a good foundation, and for me, this is usually provided by a combination of three things: world building, setting and time period. I love knowing exactly where a book is set, whether it’s in the world as we know it, or if it’s entirely fictional. I subconsciously look for that sense of stability and equilibrium and from the vague little snippets we’re given in Winterkill, the book seems to be set somewhere in northern North America: most likely in Canada, due to French and English being the languages spoken by the characters, and the intense winters the settlement endures. So excellent, we have our backdrop: Canada.
Now this is where all my issues begin. Is Winterkill set in the past, or the future? If it’s meant to be set in the future, I’m sorry, but you’d have lost me by the second page. I don’t see this as a dystopian, either. The only way this book makes any sort of sense is if it’s an alternative history or a retelling of the discovery and colonisation of North America. The language used throughout the narration is quite modern, but then we get some olden words and sentences thrown in that completely disrupts the flow and rhythm of the story. Oh, and another thing: if I EVER see the word ‘mayhap’ again in my life, it’ll be too soon. If the story is historical, make it fully historical, if it’s modern, make it fully modern, and if it’s futuristic make it bloody futuristic, but the half-past half-future unnecessary confusion drove me completely BATTY! I’m not sure if this constant chopping and changing was meant to create tension and atmosphere, but it didn’t work for me. Honestly, I should have stopped reading by chapter ten.
I didn’t connect with the main character, Emmeline. She’s grown up in a puritanical society where your reputation is everything, and I can understand up to a point why she acts the way she does. Her grandmother was Wayward, and she and her father are Stained, and living with the stigma of her transgressions. But, I was hoping Emmeline would at least attempt to rise above all of that. She whined and wallowed in self-pity far too much, and any sympathy or empathy I had for her was used up by the hundredth page in honesty. I don’t know if she’s bravely stupid or stupidly brave, but after being punished for missing Virtue Talks, the very next day she decides to go explore the forbidden woods. If she’s caught she’ll be taken to the Crossroads and hanged. Girl, do you have an ounce of cop on in that head of yours?? If you’re going to risk your neck, at least wait until things settle down for a day or two! Oh! But of course, the Council leader is in love with you, and wants your mind-numbingly dull hand in marriage. My bad! Oh! Buy why stop there! Might as well have another pathetic asshole of a boy fall in love with you too! ‘Cause you’re so desirable and all.
Fuck. My. Life.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, the pacing was painfully slow. And I mean snail moving across molasses slow. Honestly I was hoping for a ferocious attack by the malmaci to spice things up. With the settlement being fortified and guards stationed all around the perimeter to prevent these vicious ghostly beasts from taking the poor helpless villagers, I was expecting nightly raids and bloody battles of epicness. But, no, the terrifying beasts have never managed to breech the walls of the wooden fortifications, and Takings are few and far between. Oh my, how… terrifying.
*Sigh* I hate writing negative reviews. I wanted to love this book so much, and it completely sucks when expectations aren’t met. The concept was so awesome, but the execution was a complete let down for me. Can’t love ‘em all, unfortunately.