I bought this one for myself a long time ago. Actually, it’s the author’s first book but I can’t count it in the DAC because it debuted in 2011. I’m sort of reading about 10 different books at the same time right now, and I have been reading this for a long time (over weeks). I’m not going to lie; the cover is what drew me in. The snow, the columns, and the mysterious cloaked figure all made this book look eerily fantastic. Then I read what it was about and it sounded similar to one of my all time favorite YA books: Garth Nix’s Sabriel.
And the story is really good. It’s unique and it reads like a good old-fashioned fantasy novel, which I love. It was just hard for me to stay focused with this one. It’s about Kate, a girl living with her uncle, working in a bookshop, ignorant of all she is capable of. Wardens in her land are famous for invading villages and capturing all able bodies to either sell off in cities for coins or to send off to be soldiers in a never-ending war. Kate discovers her ability to bring the dead back to life at the worst possible time. The wardens have come, and her “skill” has drawn the attention of everyone.
Her uncle is captured. Her bookstore is burnt to a crisp. And her only friend seems to have a very mysterious past. After some hiding, some chase scenes, a really interesting underground passage, and a crazy killer intent on finding her, Kate is eventually captured by Silas. And Silas is definitely my favorite character. He sort of seems like a Clint Eastwood type cowboy, with a very clear sense of what is right and wrong. However, he’s also the head warden working for the evil Da’ru. Da’ru is on an epic search for the book: Wintercraft, a book that best works for people in Kate’s family. Kate’s family is well known for their skills in opening the veil to death, and her parents were killed for it.
You soon learn that Silas has his own agenda and instead of bringing Kate directly to his boss, he goes on his own search for the book. He believes Kate and the book will be his answer to dying. Da’ru brought him back to life and did something to his soul, making it impossible for him to die. All his wounds heal very quickly, making him the ultimate solider. Da’ru planned on making many soldiers like him but the important book was taken from her before she could. Kate makes a deal with Silas. Together Kate, Silas, and Edgar (her friend that just might be in love with her), learn about the skilled, the veil, and the book. They rescue her uncle and Kate eventually comes to want to help Silas.
It’s a story about family, about magic, and about honor. There are some very unique concepts in regards to death, souls, magic, healing, and shades. And there’s this really cool thing all skilled people can do that involves going into another person’s memories. And getting to really see Silas and Da’ru was interesting. I loved the bad guys in this book because their motives made sense to me.
I never really cared for Kate. She was boring. She could have been obsessed with books. She could have been training in self defense. She could have been dying to know about magic, or wanting to bring her parents back. But, she was as boring as cardboard. I liked that she fought back all the time and knew how to throw a punch, but there was no mention of who taught her to do that. It’s like the author couldn’t decide how to write her. Should she be weak or strong? And I like strong better, but still even just a weak main character that was consistently weak would have read better than one that never seemed to stay the same.
I liked the politics, the fights, the rescues, and the magic. The book definitely had a lot of action, and a kind of western feel. But, it really would have been so much better with just a little character development. It ended without me really knowing anything about the main character or her potential love interest. And I just feel like Kate was missing something important.
I think the sequel has already come out, but I’m not sure if I plan on reading it. I probably will because half of it is in Silas’ point of view and I love reading about him. I just don’t know if I can take more of boring Kate. I give it a 7/10.