Release Date: January 5th 2012, preorder a copy!
Publisher: Hachette Children's
Add it: Goodreads
Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.Could a harmless, fleeting thought of that cute guy at school spark a chain of events that will forever change your life and every single person you're connected to? You think not? Anna Winterson would strongly disagree. Shortly after she and her father move to the small coastal town of Winter, Anna finds an old, hidden grimoire in their house. During a sleepover with her new friends, they each use it to perform a love spell... just for fun, right? For everyone else it is, but when Seth Waters dumps his girlfriend and suddenly declares his undying love for Anna, she begins to suspect that perhaps witchcraft is real after all. Desperate to fix her mistake, Anna tries counter spells, but she's uncertain whether they actually work because Seth is still hanging around her. Still claiming he has feelings. As the novel progresses, there is that seed of doubt as to whether or not it's the love spell or if he genuinely cares about her, because Anna can't just snap her fingers and conjure up the truth. And as much as she'd like to, she can't deny her own growing feelings for Seth.
Although a perfect fit for the paranormal romance genre, A WITCH IN WINTER avoids fangs, excessive body hair and submissive female leads, and tells the heart-wrenching story of a couple meant to be together, but being forced apart. Seth is utterly irresistible and Anna is an empowered, proactive young woman with unimaginable magic inside her. This is fast-paced, sensuous writing with believable incantations inspired by Warburton's research into witchcraft legend and old English.
Anna is the kind of protagonist that you can easily relate to. She has a down-to earth sort of feel, but she's not meek nor does she need a guy to survive. She stands up for herself, she takes action and despite the conflict that rages in her heart, she's prepared to make the tough decisions. I loved seeing how she began to grow more sure of her powers, particularly toward the end where she needs to be sure, because she's pretty much in the centre of a war where there is no room for uncertainty. That's not to say she's a totally capable and seasoned witch by the end, but she develops in a believable way.
This was such an engaging novel, the kind that you think you've been reading for only ten minutes but find an hour has passed because you've been so caught up in the story. I especially loved the ending, where everything drew to a climax and erupted into an epic showdown. It went out on a bang, everything that happened throughout the book mounting into one huge battle between two powerful forces. There are casualties, there are sacrifices and choices must be made that are none too easy, but that's what makes it such a compelling read. The magic is laced with reality. It's not just about frilly love spells, there is heavy witchcraft abound and nothing is swept under the rug, every action has a reaction and not all reactions will be for the best.
The town of Winter was just as much a character as those who reside within it. Ruth does a fantastic job of luring you right into the heart of this small town, where you can taste the salt of the sea, feel a tickle on your spine as you enter the haunting Wicker House and have your heart pound in tune with the thrashing waves and hammering rain from the violent storms that rage the town. The action scenes at the end of the book are fantastically written. You can't draw away from the pages until you know how it will all end, who will make it out alive and whether the fight is worth the risk after all.
Unlike the love spell Anna unintentionally created, it's clear Ruth has taken the time and care to carefully measure each of her ingredients to brew this spell-binding novel. A heady blend of magic, forbidden romance, action, high-stakes and consequence, A Witch in Winter will satisfy all lovers of witchcraft and juicy, complicated romances!
4/5 Golden Apples!