WINTER, WHITE AND WICKED, by Shannon Dittemore, Harry N. Abrams, Oct. 13, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
Winter, White and Wicked, by Shannon Dittemore, is a YA fantasy novel that follows a young rig driver as she journeys across a frozen land to save her friend.
Twice-orphaned Sylvi has chipped out a niche for herself on Layce, an island cursed by eternal winter. Alone in her truck, she takes comfort in two things: the solitude of the roads and the favor of Winter, an icy spirit who has protected her since she was a child.
Sylvi likes the road, where no one asks who her parents were or what she thinks of the rebels in the north. But when her best friend, Lenore, runs off with the rebels, Sylvi must make a haul too late in the season for a smuggler she wouldn’t normally work with, the infamous Mars Dresden. Alongside his team—Hyla, a giant warrior woman and Kyn, a boy with skin like stone—Sylvi will do whatever it takes to save her friend.
But when the time comes, she’ll have to choose: safety, anonymity, and the favor of Winter—or the future of the island that she calls home. —Synopsis provided by Harry N. Abrams
I liked Winter, White and Wicked, but I didn’t love it.
Sylvi is a strong protagonist. She’s smart and ingenious. She knows what she’s doing and can adapt, except when it comes to loss. Sylvi doesn’t like change, and when her friend leaves to join the rebels, the sense of loss is immediate and profound. Sylvi’s laser-eyed focus is what drives her but also what hinders her. She struggles to see beyond what she knows, and once she does, her world crumbles.
What makes Sylvi unique, though, is her relationship with Winter itself. Winter speaks directly to her. Winter is the only constant in Sylvi’s life. Winter’s conversations, feelings and actions are bold and quiet, outrageous and understated. It’s this back and forth that makes the book work.
Where Winter, White and Wicked falls short is the backstory. Yes, author Shannon Dittemore offers a prologue that sets things in motion, but I never really figured out who/what the Majority was. The rebel cause is clearer, but without and understanding of the Majority, even that’s muddled.
There’s a lot of action in Winter, White and Wicked, yet the pacing doesn’t match. Some sections just drag while others are all encompassing. It would be nice to see the author address this in the follow-up.
And there must be a follow-up. The ending is not a satisfying end. It’s not really an end. It’s the explosion of new information and a setup for at least one more novel. But here’s the thing. Even with my issues, I still want to know what happens next. Dittemore has caught me in her web, and I want more.
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