Rika, a former Winter Girl, has become a solitary faery and has sought out the desert after years of living with ice in her body. Over time, she develops a friendship with the fox faery, Sionnach, who performs some trickery to move her out of herself and help her appreciate life and the world once more. She meets Jayce, a laid-back mortal, and they develop not only a romance but a friendship that enables Rika to move on from her past.
Part of this review may be lacking because I am not aware of the back story, but I appreciated the attempts at laying it out so that new readers can jump in. Personally, I still was confused a lot, and so I recommend reading the rest of the Wicked Lovely series if you'd like to pick this up. Still, I found the story and the characters to be an interesting diversion, and I was especially intrigued by Sionnach, the conniving fox faery, and his motivations for manipulating Rika, even though he knows that is something that could drastically hurt her. Rika and Keenan and the other faeries I was not able to fully grasp or appreciate because I couldn't understand fully their history. Thankfully, Sionnach made up for that as I read. I also found it fascinating how Rika was so "strong," and was obviously meant to 'defy' gender stereotypes, yet at the same time she longed for protection and strength from Jayce and Sionnach. She spent years laying off being strong and taking time to heal. I don't think there is any lack in strong female heroines these days in young adult fiction, so even if it was unintended, the glimpses of Rika's true femininity shining through helped me enjoy her character more than I would have if she had just come off as strong and ruthless. It is an interesting concept I think that should be explored further these days--how often a strong woman's ruthlessness comes as a part of her brokenness and painful history, rather than something that naturally springs forth on its own. Rika's softness and trusting nature were appealing to me.
The world-building in this book is great, which is part of why I'm drawn to the rest of the series. It probably helped me find my way in Marr's Wicked Lovely world more than any other element of the story. Having spent some time in the desert of the American West, I very much appreciated her detailed and convincing descriptions of the heat, the beautiful vistas, the interesting flora and fauna, and the draw of the desert to those who are looking for a means of escape.
Overall, though a short book, I think this is probably a must-read for fans of the Wicked Lovely series, and if you need a fun diversion and have not read the others but like all things faery, you should check it out.