Hello, it’s Heather here! I hope all those celebrating Christmas are having a wonderful time, I was in the midst of panicking over last minute Christmas presents when our book blog received an email granting us access to read this enchanting novel! Initially, I danced in joy with the thought that if the book was good, it would make a charming present, but now I see that the book would look at home in my own bookcase (and only the best books are allowed on there). I think the other two will also be reviewing this one shortly too.
Author: Melyssa Williams
Published: November 2016
Publisher: Red Team Ink
This book is so heart-warming, I struggled to tear myself away from reading it. For this time of year, it is absolutely ideal. I found myself immediately relating to the protagonist, Ree, who dreaded her family’s Christmas party for the many awkward encounters the night would probably entail (let’s face it, sometimes we’d much rather be curled up reading a book), but also looked forward to her godfather’s inventions with mounting anticipation. And wow, they were certainly impressive gifts. Being a keen mechanic herself, Ree helped to create the first one, but the next two were shocking even for her. The plot took a swift turn as he presented the guests with two clockwork figures, both of which enthralled Ree with their realistic quality – this section has some really brilliant imagery, so you feel the same excitement as Ree does. Her fascination with the dolls leads her to a thrilling adventure out of the comfortable world she had become somewhat bored with.
The style of the book reminded me of Phillip Pullman, which I was delighted with, being an avid fan of this type of book. The world it’s set in is similar enough to ours to make it easy to visualise, yet refreshingly magical with some nice fantasy features, most of which I haven’t seen before, like the reindeer children. I was talking with a friend the other day about how fantasy is a genre that has so much potential – limitless possibilities – and can be stunning when the author puts in the effort to communicate the little details, this book certainly falls under this category. Many masterpieces are from this area, think of Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings trilogy – these are all such successful and cherished stories because the author successfully whisked us away to somewhere new, where we could follow captivating adventures. The usage of clockwork was very different and well executed.
Ree is such a great character to lead the story, firstly because she’s a girl that spends little time waffling and is blunt about what she thinks without appearing rude or conceited, also as her sarcasm and sass is faultless and to top this, she admits any mistakes she makes. She goes stubbornly against what her sister claims is proper; yearning for adventure, passionately delving into mechanics even before the novel is set and actually fighting when necessary. Every ounce of fear and happiness that she feels is radiated through the language: she is not fearless, labels herself as claustrophobic at one point and screams a fair amount later on in the book. I think it’s important for authors to address that being scared is not weak, at no point does Ree stand up and say “Okay guys, this was fun but now I want to go home,” and walk away, that’s what really matters. Another plus point to her character was that though she often admired the boys, the story does not end with a cliché and emotional kiss, nor does she spend a long time pondering dates. I look forward to when the author writes a sequel (please write one) so these kinds of relationships can form, but the chemistry between Ree and Nikolai was perfect.
If you want a nice book to keep you company on these long and cold winter days, I would highly suggest this one. I’ve included some links below to help you all find it and hope that you do so. This author has so much potential, I cannot wait to read her next book and feel she will definitely grow in popularity soon!
OR buy it on Red Team Ink: https://www.redteamink.com/shop?olsPage=products/once-upon-a-winter-melyssa-williams&olsFocus=false