The Rebel Christian

Book Reviews

Heart of the Winterland

Kristen Kooistra

Kristen Kooistra

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This was a long book, not excruciatingly long—especially not for a fantasy novel—but it was definitely a lengthy read for me. That isn’t necessarily a complaint but more of a warning to other readers who might be looking for something quick to get through.

Heart of the Winterland is a fairly new novel but it reads like an old school fairytale and that’s one of its strengths. I liked the way the story flowed and thought the style of narration fit the plot very well. The story started out with ‘Once upon a time…’ I can’t even say when’s the last time I read a book with that as the first line. Considering this, I felt like the novel was more of a fairytale or even folktale than a fantasy novel but that’s subjective. Even though I felt the style of narration was a strength to the story, I must admit I got tired of the word flow after a little while. Fairytales are typically short so you don’t read that style of writing for very long but this stretched on for hundreds of pages so I found myself stepping away from this book every few chapters.

Besides that, Kooistra put together a pretty interesting read. The characters are sweet and definitely unique. Voice is one I enjoyed very much, partly because it’s just floating ball of light with some depths of personality. The females in this book are all written with a purpose. They’re strong but they still have their weaknesses and Kooistra wasn’t afraid to show that throughout the story.

Cali is the protagonist here but she comes across as very dimwitted—though most would kindly describe her as naïve. Cali was likeable, a typical good girl protagonist with just the right number of negative traits to make her seem more relatable. I liked her but I thought the rest of the cast took most of my attention. Even the antagonists were cool, they were evil—as evil as a fairytale baddy could be—but they were cool and had layers of personality beyond your run-of-the-mill villain.

I think one of the most notable aspects of this book was the throwback to good old spell casting and mystifying powers. Maybe I’m a sucker for ice and all things snow related but Cali is a 200-year-old princess for God’s sake, if that wasn’t a clue as to how the story would flow then I don’t know what is.

Overall, I found this book to be enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the narration so I’m not sure if I will continue the series but I would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes fantasy, fairytales, and books with strong female leads.