Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: Winter's Shadow

Author: M.J Hearle
Release Date: June 1st 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Add it: Goodreads

Blake Duchamp...

He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself.

 Forced to trudge all the way up Owl Mountain to take photo's of an old church for her school newspaper, Winter spies more than a pile of old rubble behind her camera lens. A young man with the most hypnotic, luminous emerald eyes - eyes that literally root a person to the spot. Eyes that scream more than 'human'. When Black Duchamp saves Winter's life only moments later from the collapsing church - everything changes.

Blake is new to town, having just bought the old haunted Velasco place. The one with a tainted history. We soon learn there's definitely something strange about that house, however it seems more likely that it's something tied to Blake rather than a grisly murder from decades past. Since meeting Blake, Winter can't help but notice strange things suddenly happening in her life and the fact that she keeps seeing three frightening shadows following her that definitely don't appear to embody a warm and fuzzy side. But what exactly is Blake? Should she trust him? Or has he really come to town with a much more sinister plan in play?

There's a creepy sense of foreboding lingering throughout the novel. We're giving deliciously vague hints as to what thing is lurking in Blake's attic, what dark secrets lie behind emerald eyes and what surprising forces our young heroine is truly capable of. The not-knowing is what makes it what makes it such a page-turner, because you want to uncover it's spooky secrets and finally be able to unlock the mysteries that have taunted you every page.

The mythology Hearle has crafted is fantastic. With a constant stream of paranormal romances rushing the YA market every year, many seem to tackle the same thing - vampires, werewolves, etc. But let's just say Blake won't be sprouting a tail anytime soon. His secrets are dangerous, he belongs to a world far removed from what Winter has grown up with, but are his intentions to harm her or save her?

Throughout the novel we're given flashbacks to a woman who lived in the 1800's, whose story inexplicably has ties to the present day. The flashbacks and sporadic insights into Blake's thoughts were a great addition, fueling the intrigue and mystery. We're given tantalising hints urging you to try piece together the puzzle, but while you may gain some idea what is going on, on the whole you're left sitting there thinking 'WHAT?!' (in a good way!) - and then you reach the point where everything finally begins to tie together and you realise what brilliant talent the author has.

The second half of the book moves faster than the first, as the action intensifies and revelations are made. The first half is slower paced and sets the tone of the book. While in the beginning I did find some of the narration to seem a little 'mature' for Winter since she's not exactly doing well in school, I soon got lost in the writing as I turned each page and more clues came to light. I wanted solve this captivating tale and when I finally did, I was not disappointed.

The ending is saddening, but gives hope and it's definitely set up for a sequel. I think I read that this is the first book in a trilogy, so I'm excited to see everything we learned explored more in the following books. The supernatural element is definitely something I want to see more.

Winter's Shadow is a suspenseful novel that offers a haunting romance and compelling mythology unlike any I had read before. I was left me perched on the edge of my seat as the mystery unfolded. I love seeing Australian authors making their own imprint on the YA genre and Winter's Shadow is a welcome addition to paranormal romance lovers, offering it's own new and exciting story that I'm sure many people will love!

Rating: 4/5

6 comments:

  1. Great Review! You really make me want to read this now! lol

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  2. I think I want to read this one simply because it's by an Aussie author! Look at what you've done to me Brodie; constantly spouting your Australian awesomeness...tsk tsk. LOL Seriously though, this book looks pretty good. It's refreshing to know that it's not filled with overrated vamps and the like. And it's a mystery too? I'm sold! Another one to add to my TBR list!

    By the way, YOU'RE 3 FOLLOWERS AWAY FROM 500! Which is really baffling because, well, who'd wanna follow a weird vegan cannibal like you? LOLL Only a psycho like me :D.... & the other 496 people following you :P

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  3. Oh my God. Oh my God, Brodie..it sounds absolutely brilliant!! Although, at times it seems to be dragging, I think it's worth it because of all the surprise and mythology! Great review! Enthusiastic and honest. :)

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  4. Thanks for helping spread the word Brodie!
    I'm working on the first draft of the sequel at the moment which moves at a much faster pace than Winter's Shadow. The first book was all about setting up the mythology, now I'm free to cut straight to the chase (literally and figuratively). As soon as it's ready for review I'll make sure you get a copy.
    Be sure to check out my website mjhearle.com for updates and thanks again for the kind words!
    M.J.

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  5. Yes, your mailbox this week has me hunting through your reviews. This book sounds AMAZING! (And look! A redhead on the cover! I love covers with redheads! Though not important.) How much does it suck that this is only published in Australia? Never mind! I will be heading to The Book Depository once I have more money in my pockets. Ooooh, I need this book! Cheers, Brodie!

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