Winter, White & Wicked is a fresh take on the classic YA quest-trope, with most of the story taking place within the cab of a ice-rig! Add in a kickass driver & a trio of misfits, exciting magic & an icy setting, & you’ve got yourself a winner. I genuinely could have stayed on this journey for days longer than I did & I’m super excited about where the series is going!
I was sent a copy a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
⚠️ This book contains addition, violence, torture, murder, kidnap, gun use, fighting/killing animals (wolves), a form of slavery & death of family members. There is also one scene including, & a few passages describing of the memory of, an attempted rape of a child, which her guardian allows. ⚠️
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.
I will happily admit that I was drawn to this book because of the cover, but I can also now admit that Winter, White & Wicked has so much going for it, other than just its stunning cover! This wintery tale felt as fresh & crisp as the weather packed into it’s pages, & it took me on a journey that I would quite happily have stayed on for days to come; I’m fascinated by the world that Shannon Dittemore has created & I’m super excited to learn more about it in the rest of the series!
My first thought about this book was that the premise was interesting; here is a YA quest to rescue the protagonist’s best friend, but with modern transport involved?! Honestly, how often do we see that? The whole concept of the rig & all the complications that come with driving such a big vehicle across icy planes added a solid vibe of newness & unknowing to the book, & Shannon did an incredible job of telling a story that was mainly contained within the cab of a truck! This is a book that takes us on a looooong journey but there was not a single moment where I was bored of Sylvi’s rig, the character’s thoughts, or of any of the events that took place between point A & point B.
The magic in this world is one of those kinds where the wielder has to pay for the magic they use – in this case it involves blisters taking over the mouth of the person casting spells, as well as the general weariness we’re all used to experiencing when bedazzling those around us. As someone who suffers with unending mouth ulcers when anaemic, I could easily (almost too easily) imagine the pain that spell casting must cause & I thought it was a genius form of “payment”. There is also some great history in this book, & despite me wishing that some of the passages about the past were clearer, I can’t say that I’m not intrigued by the past of this world.
Another form of magic in this world presents itself as a spirit called Winter – Winter has looked out for protagonist Sylvi since she was a child & first impressions tell us that she’s, in a way, Sylvi’s guardian angel, but as it turns out, she is actually so much more than that. Shannon teaches us more & more about Winter as the pages go by, but one thing that was obvious to me from the start was Winter’s unrelenting power, & I’m mighty eager to know if there are more spirits out there like Winter (& if there are, what are they doing with their powers?!).
Protagonist Sylvi is a lot of fun as well – she’s not nearly as tough as she likes to make out, but she does have an underlying selfishness that comes with having to survive by yourself from a young age. Sylvi makes a lot of decisions in this book that will leave you frustrated & rolling your eyes, but the secrets she uncovers are totally worth it, & getting to know the three companions forced upon her for this journey was hella fun as well. I started off by not trusting any of the people Sylvi was driving for, but learning about each of their motivations for travelling across the ice proved the author’s ability to create 3D characters with history, personality & individuality, & by the end I wanted to wrap them all up in fluffy blankets & give them everything they wanted – even if each of their desires would impact the others (& not necessarily in a good way)…
The story contained within these pages is your typical quest, but it is peppered with interesting sorcery, species & secrets from start to finish, & the uniqueness of the journey-by-rig, as well as Winter’s presence, meant that, for me at least, Winter, White & Wicked was an exciting & unconventional version of a trope that we all adore. This book comes out today so please do check it out!
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