First off, I was enthralled with the worldbuilding. Yes, this plot line will remind you of The Village, but thankfully the pull of that similarity led me into a story that ended up being very different and very unexpected. So, yes--one will expect the night watch, the mysterious boogieman dwelling just beyond the reaches of the settlement, the fort-like community that has existed for who knows how long and whose origins no one is fully clear on. The added dread of La Prise, aka the Winterkill, just magnifies the aspects of survival and hard work evident in this isolated group of people. The background for Emmeline's family history and the religion of her settlement was effortlessly woven into the fabric of the book, a consistent push forward in the story and pull back to give the reader the background she needs. I was enchanted with Boorman's writing style, especially the French sprinkled throughout the book, as I was a French minor and just adore the language.
The characters were so polished and interesting, namely the villain--is he friend or foe? Boorman truly kept me guessing, seeing both tender and frightening sides to his good-looking exterior. Kane, uh. Yikes. Not everyone can suck me into a love interest that quickly, but quite often I read breathlessly through his and Emmeline's interactions. Other characters that stuck out to me were Emmeline's father and Soeur Manon, with whom Emmeline apprentices. Sadly, Tom, who seems immediately like he will be a stronger character, kind of faded into the background for me, though he appears to be Em's only true friend. Overall, though...Emmeline, je t'aime, je t'aime. I connect with her need to be exploring, to know THE TRUTH, to find out the answers, even if the ways she goes about doing it are FOOLISH, foolish, foolish, people! In the end, though she risked her life, it was completely, totally worth it. Also, though her disability was a huge part of her outcast status, it only added to her inherent charm for me. And I do appreciate it when an MC isn't 100% bad-a$%, but has some shortcomings, some weaknesses, some flaws. When she has a need for others to come through for her. I find that to reveal a true inner strength lacking in some YA's on occasion.
The story? So, so good. I especially am into survival and history myself, so if your an aficionado of any of those genres, be sure to pick this one up. I simply can't wait for the next round with Emmeline and crew.