Released: May 13th, 2010
Grade rating: B
Ten years ago Kate Winters’ parents were taken by the High Council’s wardens to help with the country’s war effort. Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane – the High Council’s most feared man – recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft – a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of
Anticipation for this UK debut novel has been building steadily all year and, while Wintercraft didn't quite live up to my high expectations, I did enjoy it. There doesn't seem to be a lot of YA fantasy around these days, so to find something new and as well written as this was a big plus for me. I've always been into fantasy and magic, and it was Wintercraft's premise that initially caught my eye.
Burtenshaw's writing was, in a word, brilliant. When reading, I could really tell she has a talent, and a fantastic way with words. Her descriptions of of Fume made the city come alive, and her everyday observations made me wish I could see these wonderful places for myself. I particularly liked the sound of Albion, though Fume was equally as fascinating.
Character-wise, Wintercraft had some gems. Silas Dane and his bird were my favourites, and I can't wait to see more of him in the next book. I have it on good authority that there's much more to look forward to from him, which is great news. He's still somewhat of a mystery to me, but I'm looking forward to peeling back his many layers and discovering what he's all about. Main character Kate didn't really do much for me, though I think that's partly because of the third person narrative. She didn't get under my skin or into my head, which is what I look for in a lead protagonist. I thought other characters outshone her, though I did admire her bravery and resilience.
Wintercraft's overall pace was a bit too slow for me, though when it did pick up, it was an exciting adventure that I couldn't put down. I'm really intrigued to find out what's in store for Fume and the High Council, and I think the next book in the series could end up being the best. Now that the characters and settings have been established, Burtenshaw can do whatever she wants, and after that ending, I'm itching to read more.
Wintercraft is a compelling fantasy story brimming with mystery, danger and kick-ass characters. It's unusual and inventive and, as I mentioned earlier, the writing is top notch. Although it isn't one of my all-time favourites, I think it's an excellent addition to UK teen fiction, as well as the high fantasy genre, and I really would recommend it.