Review Number Two: A Winter's Promise
Welcome back everyone, today's review will regard the first chapter of The Mirror Visitor quartet, A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos. It's set in a fantasy world where the earth has been broken down into floating islands called Arks, each inhabited by people with specific abilities and controlled by an immortal family spirit. The protagonist, clumsy, introverted Ophelia is an expert in reading the past of objects and travelling through mirrors and lives happily on the Anima ark until she is forced into betrothal with mysterious, short-tempered Thorn, moving to live with him to a frosty ark known as the Pole.
Everything about this book is very delicate and poetic, from the writing style and beautifully described settings, to the main characters and the court life led by the nobles of Clairdelune, a palace owned by arrogant, charming Archibald. Ophelia could seem like a weird choice for the main character: she speaks little and with difficulty, is always breaking stuff, likes to be alone and the only striking thing about her appearance is the weird way she dresses. But beneath the tranquil surface lies a surprising, unbreakable strength of will that in her own quiet way never bends to anything other than her own morals. She is a perfect, realistic example of how a person can be strong and fearless even without an ideal body type or by using brute force.
The story was also articulated very well, gracefully entwining the various plot lines without overdoing them and leading up to pretty interesting plot twists. Stories involving life at court and political tensions can often become confusing or boring to read about in some cases and Dabos was very good at making sure this didn't happen. What I didn't particularly enjoy was the main male character Thorn, Ophelia's fianceé.
Thorn is a troubled man, constantly worried about work and without any friends or close relations apart from his aunt. Being a bastard he has been rejected from his family, one of the powerful clans of the Pole and is generally considered rude and unpleasant. Through the course of the story he develops if nothing else an affection towards Ophelia, who he was initially completely opposed to marrying, but when it comes down to it I think his bad traits far outweighed his good ones. He ruined the scenes he was in and even the ( rare) moments between him and Ophelia were too cold for me to really enjoy. He just wasn't a character I could ever relate to or sympathize with, though I hope that will chance later in the series. Plus the final twist of the book really lowered my opinion of him...
Overall The Winter's Promise was a very good read. Ophelia and her strange wonderful world really grew on me and I can't wait to move on to the next chapter of the series, The Missing of Clairdelune. Anyone who enjoys fantasy settings, court intrigues and strong female leads is strongly recommended to look for this book and open it!