SUMMARY: Inspired by the nordic tale of Hladgertha (Ladda) and King Ragnar, this story revolves around Ladda’s experience into becoming a shieldmaiden in the midst of war landing on her family’s homeland. It follows the story through Ladda’s point of view. Plentiful moments of action, gore and battle are rampant in this book, adding to the historic way of the viking.
OVERVIEW: I received this digital ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy, Kindle) from Netgalley. I was very excited to delve into this story about vikings, battles, love and the adventures of an epic ‘sword girl’ like Ladda. I absolutely fell in love with the cover art and the synopsis. From the very beginning of the book, I was lost. The chapter and story began in such a way that you had a hard time picturing exactly what was going on, as key details and explanations of the scenery were mostly left out. We are introduced to Ladda, a spitfire fifteen year old who has been shoved into war by no means of her own. From there we start learning a bit more about her, her family and her sisters. Unfortunately, Ladda’s character fell flat and the writing did not convey appropriate emotions or the mentally of a fifteen year old girl. I had a hard time believing that someone of her age would think and act the way that she did, right from the beginning. The writing style was honestly the hardest thing to get used to, as it left out so many details that would have made the world building a thousand times better. However, the story begins to improve in PART II. When it started to make more sense and have more clarity, PART III was rushed into a disastrous and confusing ending.
- Epic battles and deeply descriptive fight scenes.
- Strong female characters that were supported by male characters.
- Fascinating overall story and concept, accurate historical references, language and details.
- Weak and rushed writing style, with excessive run on sentences and paragraphs that made absolutely no sense.
- Random, unexplained moments in varied parts of the story that were not explained at all before happening.
- Irrelevant and an inaccurate portrayal of a fifteen year old girl and her sisters.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I wanted to enjoy this book badly. I wanted to love the characters and empathize with them. I had such high hopes and expectations for Winter by Winter, but it all fell short and flat. I had so many issues with certain things that didn’t make sense to me. First, how seemingly random her relationships started and ended. There was no buildup or explanation of her feelings. None of the characters had any depth, they were completely one-dimensional. Things just…happened. I felt nothing towards the characters. Certain details that seemed irrelevant to the story: children ‘pissing’ on a tree, her needing to ‘piss’, randomly having her period and soaking her clothes, random and unexplained deaths, varied symbolism that made no sense. The way Ladda behaved was not that of a fifteen year old, and her experiences (especially with her love interests) and strength were also not an accurate portrayal of what someone her age would be capable of. The whole story would have made so much more sense if she had been closer to eighteen, or older. As much as I wanted to love this book, I simply couldn’t. It had so much potential to be an epic story with deeply complex characters, but it just didn’t live up to my expectation.