Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 30, 2014
Genres: Classic Retelling, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.
New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.
Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.
Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
Although I’ve given myself permission to DNF books the past few years, it’s rare that I actually do it. Even rarer when I sign up for a blog tour, in fact it’s never happened on a tour book. I usually power through, but I just couldn’t with this book. I didn’t want to. It felt physically draining to read it, and I was starting to get all snarky about it, which is never a good thing.
The cover drew me to the book, even the font is gorgeous. I love The Nutcracker tale, and Claire Legrand is a good writer. So what happened?
It’s was just too crazy and confusing. And parts of it felt silly or weird. So, no doubt that’s how my dnf review will feel:
Clara is the mayor’s daughter, but he works for a corrupted organization, and she’s fighting off the advances of over the top evil guy, Dr. Victor. Her mother died, and Clara feels very protective over her younger sister, Felicity. Since her mother’s death (which might have something to do with Concordia, the corrupted organization Clara’s dad works for), Clara has been getting fighting lessons from her godfather, Drosselmeyer, who was some homeless guy her mother helped out years ago. Her godfather has a metal statue of a man in his store, which is called Trifles & Trinkets. Clara has a weird attraction to the statue, and in the past, has pressed up against it as she whispered her secrets. Of course this isn’t supposed to be as creepy and disturbing as it would seem, because the statue eventually comes to life! His name is Nicholas, and I guess he’s still pretty hot, despite that fact that he still has bits of metal hanging on him.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Concordia, the evil organization full of evil people, is currently being run by Patria Plum, widow of the late Boss Plum. Plum is perfectly fine with Dr. Victor and his habit of experimenting on young woman, and knows that his attraction to Clara is unhealthy and dangerous. But since she’s evil, she just uses this to her advantage.
Even though it’s the first Christmas without their mom, Clara and family still throw their Christmas party. Which is a disaster from the start, since Dr. Victor caught Clara sparring with Drosselmeyer, and Clara’s father, Mayor Stole, has been going off Concordia script for the past year. And he drinks a lot. Clara overhears Plum’s plans to have Mayor Stole assassinated, and threatens to let Dr. Victor have a go at Felicity if Clara doesn’t keep her mouth shut.
So, worst party ever.
Then things get even more confusing. Drosselmeyer shows up and he and Clara fight off… rats? It takes a turn for the Steampunk genre, because there’s clockwork thingamajigs that Drosselmeyer uses for the fight. Then her father gets kidnapped by Borschalk, who works for Anise, who is queen of Cane, which is a hidden world. Anise is angry at Drosselmeyer and wants to prevent him from restoring Nicholas (metal statue boy Clara likes to rub her business on) to life, only SHE’S TOO LATE! So Clara leaves Felicity behind, and she and metal boy go after her dad and Borschalk. Clara needs her dad back so that Plum won’t hand her and her sister over to the sadistic Dr. Victor.
Apparently it’s cold in Cane, because Nicholas pretty much orders Clara to sleep naked with him in order to keep warm. Because former prince’s from parallel world’s in 1899 know about such things, and really, Clara pretty much molested him when he was a statue, so instead of questioning him about who the hell he is and why he was a statue, Clara just snuggles up. After all, he knows her and all her secrets since he’s been watching her all these years, like one of those freaky Weeping Angel statues from Dr. Who.
And that, dear midnighters, was when I made the choice to walk away. I got 115 pages in before calling it quits. The main problem wasn’t the crazy, confusing plot. I stopped reading because I didn’t care if Clara rescued her dad and got revenge on Dr. Victor and Concordia. I didn’t care that Felicity, the little sister, was left alone while Clara and statue man made body heat in an alternate world. I’m good at stretching the limits of my imagination but I just didn’t want to continue on. Reading this made me feel tired, and I sighed a lot while reading. I thought the chemistry between Clara and Nicholas would rescue the book for me, but it just felt too yucky. I’m not going to rate the book, since I didn’t finish it, but the fact that I couldn’t is kind of it’s own rating.