Young Adult Book Review: The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy

Title: The Winter People 
Author:  Rebekah L. Purdy
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Genre Type:  Fantasy
Publication Date: September 2nd 2014
Source: Publisher - NetGalley
Publisher:  Entangled: Teen

An engrossing, complex, romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore or Maggie Stiefvater, set in a wholly unique world.

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

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The Winter People is a romantic fantasy at heart that's rich in atmosphere, as the author Rebekah L. Purdy creates a beautiful and deadly Winter-landscape as a backdrop to a suspenseful mystery and romance with a twist.  A unique mix of modern and fairy tale, where all is not as it seems.

First off, I must tell you that The Winter People completely sated my craving for a highly atmospheric, wintery setting that included a touch of Otherness that often accompanies anything related to fairy tales and the realms of fairies. The descriptions made me feel and see the crunch of snow, and the deadly and beautiful forest that Salome was forbidden to cross into. The strange creatures lurking within. There's also a fun mix of pizza parlors, sandy beaches, parties, and proms that grounded the story in the contemporary world too. Yet, there's also the shadow of the Otherworld that looms just across the boundaries.

The Winter People should be noted as romance first and foremost, a fantasy second. And, just to be clear there's three, yes, three young men that all play a role in Salome's life and the actual mystery behind the Winter people themselves. Now, before you get all worked up, and hear words of "love quadrangles" let me explain why I thought in this case it actually worked well. Each of the boys that enter into the story and into Salome's life represent something to her. One, is her long-time crush, the second is a mysterious boy that seems to be a part of the woods themselves and who holds a key to her past and her future, and the third, is a boy who brings feelings of safety, honesty and friendship to Salome.

This romance is going to worked for some readers who enjoy following their heroine as she grows in character and discovers which boy truly cares for her only, and whose heart is worthy to be her hero. I had no problem with the boys, in fact I enjoyed uncovering their secrets one by one, and discovering the real romance. And, when all was said in done, there was no question who it should be. I thought it was sweet, swoon-worthy, and with a unique twist to it.  So, the story is romance and character centered and driven, withing a highly, atmospheric and nicely suspenseful story. Being a fan of romance, I enjoyed it completely.

The plot and mystery unfolded slowly, but kept hooked until the very end trying trying to discover the meaning behind the fantasy/paranormal aspects to the story. I loved the actual idea behind the curse, and how it involved Salome, her family and the Winter People, BUT, I was disappointed in the fact that the mystery kept taking a back seat to the romance when it could have run parallel to it. The actual curse and dark secrets would have had a much bigger impact, in my opinion, if they were better interwoven into the storyline.

Almost too many damsel-in-distress episodes caused some frustration when it came to Salome, yet her determined spirit, loyalty and sweetness worn me over. Once again, I enjoyed the heroine, but she could have been so much more if she would have over-come some of her fears sooner. I love it when a heroine, despite fears, flaws or whatever tries to overcome them in her own way. Salome almost played the damsel-in-distress card one-too-many times.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars. I liked it!

The dark and mercurial creatures, wintery setting, fairy tale like romance and capricious characters all kept me intrigued throughout The Winter People. The book was a complete read in itself and gave me the action packed ending, solved riddles that I needed while avoiding the dreaded cliffhanger.

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Entangled Teen in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you Entangled Teen for the review opportunity!