The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

Book Summary

Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner's debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life - even if they've heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.

But before they leave, Liba discovers the secret that their Tati can transform into a bear, and their Mami into a swan. Perhaps, Liba realizes, the old fairy tales are true. She must guard this secret carefully, even from her beloved sister.

Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not the only dangers lurking in the woods...

The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be - and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer.

Book Details

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
Published on September 25, 2018 by Redhook
Fiction, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Hardcover, 464 pages
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars


Book Review

Filled with luscious writing and details, THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD by Rena Rossner weaves a dark and enchanting fairy tale of sisterly love. It is one of those books that is as gorgeous on the inside as its cover is on the outside! Perfect for readers who enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale, Uprooted and Wintersong.

A mix of prose and verse make this story's characters come alive!

The writing is lyrical, both captivating and vivid. This is a very character driven story, portraying the strong bond shared between two sisters. Narrated by Liba and Laya's perspectives, it alternates in style from prose to verse, creating beautifully crafted and distinctive voices for both teen girls.

Rich in tradition and folklore, the story feels like a lost fairy tale come to light.

The story takes inspirations from Christina Rossetti 's enthralling work The Goblin Market and infuses it with Russian and Ukrainian folklore. What I found most inspiring, besides the traditional stylised, dark fairy-tale quality presented, was the beautiful Jewish traditions and lore Rossner incorporated into the story. The appreciation and rich heritage she shares add such beauty and depth to The Sisters of the Winter Wood's story.

The setting is definitely perfect for story ripe in folklore and magic.

Taking place in the small and remote village of Dubossary, a vast and mysterious forest seems to hold within it all kinds of strange creatures and otherworldly beings. Noble bears and shapeshifting swans are rumored to have passed through, while a troupe of seductive, fruit-peddling brothers coincides with strange occurrences and missing girls from the village.

Beware—The Goblin Market is decadent and dark!

Left alone while their parents depart for a nearby village on urgent family business, the sisters find their freedom also comes with unexpected danger, as Liba and Laya discover what really lies within the forest.

In the End

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner goes beyond the average retelling by instilling the story with a rich and vibrant collection of traditions and folklore, while touching upon a time of rising anti-semitism. Two Jewish sisters find themselves not only braving the dark and enchanted forests and all the dangers it holds but also from pogroms threatening their village. Highly recommended!