Review: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

(Winterkill #1)
by Kate A. Boorman
YA Dystopian
Hardcover323 Pages
September 9th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams


Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.

My Review

Winterkill was a tough book to categorize. This is almost where you feel that categories just get in the way. Basically ignore that I put this as a dystopian, because it is more of an historical setting. At least that's how it feels for the most part. By the end of the tale, you can figure out that the land used to be much more civilized, that it still is in other places and with other tribes, but that where Emmeline, or "Em," lives it is very rustic. I'm not even sure exactly when the story takes place, but I know the world is different and that others outside this community have access to things far advanced from those within. This un-settled-ness of the time period may bother some, but for me it kept things interesting and forced me to just enjoy the story instead of trying to fit it into a box.

I also just need to say that I love this cover! I think it carries across the vibe of Little Red Riding Hood (there are some similarities) and the story itself with its rustic community and the winter winds that come every year. It's also very fitting considering the risks that some of these characters take and what winter approaching means. Very well done in the cover and the title.

The story is somewhat slowly paced, although really it's more of a very slow build to the climatic truth that Em discovers later on in the book. It was something I already suspected, but wasn't completely sure of or of who was behind everything and who was involved until Em finds out herself. I did start to feel a sense of urgency starting at about half-way through for Em to just figure things out and to do so quickly. The characters were so afraid of their leaders or "councilmen" as they were called and I didn't like it one bit. Their subservience felt cultish. Em still decides to sneak around what she is supposed to be doing to look for some answers and to follow her dreams. Her literal dreams (this is something I'm hoping to have explained a little more in the future books). 

In the end I was proud of Em, of Kane, Tom, Andre, and her father. Em didn't find her truth alone and the result wasn't just due to her own bravery, but because she was helped by many others. She couldn't have done it without them. I also have a soft spot for Matista and Soeur Manon, although I also would have liked more character development for them as well. I also have quite a dislike for Stockham and Jameson.

I did find the connections to Little Red Riding Hood interesting as well. This story in no way really portrays that one, but there are things here and there that connect them. One, would be a cabin in the woods. Another, the malmaci, who are supposedly monsters who take people in the night and attack the community on rare occasion. Then there is Em who is searching to find out what really happened to her grandmother. She is also a gatherer for Soeur Manon and so Red Riding Hood traipsing through the forest with a basket comes to mind.  

Overall, I enjoyed Winterkill. I though it was a well written and unique story. There was the possibility of a love triangle, but it wasn't a strong one and the romance definitely wasn't the focal point. It also developed over time, which I appreciated. I'm rather curious to find out what will happen in the rest of the series. I expect that a lot more of the world Winterkill is set in will be revealed and I'm looking forward to it!

Content: Clean (There was some innuendo and violence, but I would consider this clean.)

Source: I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley, which did not affect my review in any way.

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