The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood in this lushly romantic and intensely imaginative historical fantasy from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore! When Katya loses control of her power to freeze, her villagers banish her to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev. Expecting punishment, she is surprised to find instead that Sasha is just like her—with the ability to summon fire. Sasha offers Katya friendship and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it. But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies are organizing an army of people bent on taking over the entire world. Together, Katya’s and Sasha’s powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will Katya and Sasha lose everything they hold dear?
Through the White WoodFeatured
lush and engaging YA fantasy
THROUGH THE WHITE WOOD follows Katya, a young woman who has a power of ice and is feared by many. From the time she was a baby and left in the woods throughout her life, she has been ever-conscious of her dangerous power. After a tragedy occurs involving her uncontrollable ability, Katya is sent to the prince for sentencing. Rumors swirl that the prince is amassing an army of people with special abilities to fight against rival kingdoms, as well as of the terrible things he has done.
Once Katya arrives, she finds that Prince Vladimir (a.k.a. Sasha) is not who she expected, and she is to be trained but ultimately, she can decide whether to fight. The invading armies are getting closer to the capital of Kiev by the day and Katya is ever aware that she will soon need to make a difficult decision. First, however, she must learn to understand and control her powers which she fears, and this is no easy task.
What I loved: The world is full of various magical beings and this was absolutely fascinating. I also really enjoyed not only Katya and Sasha’s characters but also the many side characters that appear in the book. The idea of the powers was fascinating with the different elements and how flexibly they could be used, and even more information about these would have been interesting. The ending is also a little open, and I am hoping there will be another book along these lines to continue this unique story.
What left me wanting more: The romance felt a little forced. While they do spend time together, the connection between them was not grown as much as I would have liked to witness. Perhaps this is because Katya is consumed by her powers and their potential dangers and so the romance creeps up on her. I would have liked some more scenes to build this up. There is also a lot going on in this world. While the information given was adequate to follow the story, I would have loved even more context and historical building for how the world has come to be this way/about the prince’s powers, and more along these lines.
Final verdict: Overall, this was an engaging and fascinating read that consumed my YA fantasy-loving heart. This book is great for lovers of magic, YA fantasy and adventure, and fairytale retellings. I would definitely love to meet these characters again in future books.