Middle Grade Monday #The Rise of Winter by Alex Lyttle

Winter lives in a post-apocalyptic world with only two seasons: dry and rainy. Even her name sounds like something mythical. Some time ago, the world was almost destroyed by human careless activities. Winter keeps watching mountains that separate her country Nacadia from the Forgotten Lands full of toxic waste.

Winter’s mother died in childbirth and the only time Winter’s blind grandmother spoke about her father was to say that he died of a broken heart.

One day a strange thing happens: Winter begins to understand animal speech. Then, her world is turned upside down. She has to run for her life in the company of a wise Fox Vulpeera and a super-chatty raccoon Protin (one of my favourite characters in the book). She must reach the mysterious Cove where she has to undergo a ceremony that will make her (confirm) into one of the twelve Guardians Terra (The Mother Earth) has chosen to protect herself and all the living creatures. Each of the Guardians- four attributes (Strength, Speed, Agility, and Wisdom) for three Earth domains (land, water, and sky). Not everybody agrees with choosing Winter to be the Land Guardian of Wisdom and everybody is surprised when she is appointed the Terra Protectorum, the leader who must learn the magic powers of the rest of the Guardians, and use them to heal the hurting Terra.

Winter has a lot to learn, but her life is constantly in danger and there are lots of twists and turns in this well-written tale with a strong environmental message.

What I liked the most were the Guardians and their disctinct personalities. Winter herself is strong main character, both open-minded and caring. Initially, she refuses to accept the role of the Terra Protectorum because she doesn’t feel it is fair to accept it without knowing what responsibilites it will involve and whether she is really the best choice. I also liked Vulpeera’s family but don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. There is also a strong antagonist, which promises well for the continuation of the story.

The magic powers /abilities Winter has to learn are great and I wouldn’t mind having some of them in my real life. Describing all twelve of them would have been a tall task for one book, so I’m glad the author focused on just three.

I would have prefered to see a bit more of the worldbuilding. Cars, mass-produced books and electricity are just making (re-) appearance , so they must be living through tumultous times of rapid social and technological change. Yet, there is almost nothing to help you imagine their daily life: food, clothes, houses, transport, schools. There are other burning questions I would ask about people in this world: What do they know about their history? What do they care about? What is really there in the Forbidden Lands?

The narrative is really pacey and absorbing. After all, nothing beats a well-written story of self-discovery and adventure. So, yes, I am already looking forward to the sequel.

Thank you to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for the DRC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Title: The Rise of Winter
Author: Alex Lyttle
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Date: 1st of May 2019

Have you read The Rise of Winter? What’s the best middle grade book you’ve read recently?

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