Review: Saving Winter

After joining a review team for one of Rachel Huffmire's upcoming books, I decided to familiarize myself with her first series, The Mirror Chronicles. Unfortunately, the fourth book in the series was probably not the best place to start. Unlike many other fairy tale series I've read, Saving Winter does not work as a standalone at all. I've discovered in the past that the science fiction genre does not blend well with fairy tales, and this ARC was no exception. The book is loosely based on "The Snow Queen," but I found little similarity to it despite the quoted Hans Christian Andersen passages at the beginning of each chapter, which seemed out of place. Regardless of whether or not it followed the fairy tale, this was not a pleasant reading experience in general. While it could be because I didn't read the rest of the series, I found it exceedingly difficult to keep track of the characters and plot in this book.

This would normally be the place where I share a brief summary of the story, but I found Saving Winter so confusing that I'm not entirely sure I know what it was about. There was a lot of time travel, some rebellion, and many different characters to follow, none of whom I felt particularly attached to. I've said in other reviews that time travel plots can be tricky to handle, especially for fairy tale adaptations and this book was all over the place. At first, it seemed like it was about a character named Violette forming a rebellion against ITTA, an agency that is similar to the Time Bureau from Find Me in Paris, which is a rare example of a story that combines princesses and time travel in a compelling way, despite its many plot holes. This book is the polar opposite of Find Me in Paris. There was a great deal of effort spent fleshing out each timeline and the mechanics of the world and in doing so, the book left little room for the readers to care about the characters.

Partway through the book, it is revealed that an alternate version of Violette was formed as a result of her time travel escapades, and that version seems to represent the infamous Snow Queen. Closer to the end, the main character switches to a girl named Fleur, who is likely the Gerda character from the fairy tale. Fleur wants to rescue her friend Baigh, who probably represents Kai. This would have been well and good if Fleur and Baigh were more present at the beginning of the story to give readers a chance to care about them. However, they show up so late in the book that I barely knew who they were or why it was so important for her to save him from the evil version of Violette. Not only that, but it seemed like the good version of Violette had been all but forgotten at some point. Either that or she was actually someone else the whole time, and that wasn't very clear either. The whole book was so confusing that I rarely knew what was going on at any given time.

To be fair, I think that reading the first three books in The Mirror Chronicles may have alleviated some of my confusion with Saving Winter. Most series I've read where each book adapts a different fairy tale usually have different protagonists in each book, making the world easy to learn about from anywhere in the series. This series might be a rare exception to that rule. Even so, I found the world unnecessarily convoluted, and the emotional stakes were as cold as the Snow Queen herself, which I suppose was appropriate for such an adaptation. Each chapter of this book becomes progressively more confusing in terms of who to root for and what the characters' motivations are. If it hadn't been for the epitaphs of "The Snow Queen" between chapters, I would have had no idea it was based on a fairy tale.

Overall, Saving Winter by Rachel Huffmire left me feeling underwhelmed and disconnected. While the book follows a noble cause and contains some exciting moments, the confusing plot and lack of personality for the characters made it difficult for me to care about any of them. I think this book is meant as a reward for people who have enjoyed the first three books in the Mirror Chronicles as opposed to an introduction to this convoluted science fiction world. Despite its good intentions, I found myself struggling to stay engaged with the story throughout. While Saving Winter may have some redeeming qualities, I would caution readers to manage their expectations before diving in.


Courtney said…
Hello! I think your review isn’t really fair since you haven’t read the other books in the series. I just finished “Saving Winter,” and have read the preceding books in the series. No, “Saving Winter” is definitely not a standalone novel. To appreciate the intricacies of the plot and relationships it really is imperative that you read the other books. I think it is unfair to post an unfavorable review when you haven’t actually given this book a fair shot (which would only be done be reading the preceding books). Everything will make more sense if you read the other books. I implore you to read them and give this amazing author and series a fair shot and a fair review.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Courtney,

Thank you for your feedback. I am currently on a review team for another one of this author's books that I am greatly enjoying, so I agree that she is capable of writing compelling stories. However, I signed up for an ARC of this book and was therefore obligated to share my opinion regardless of whether or not I was familiar with the series. While I acknowledge that my lack of familiarity with the series did have some impact on my enjoyment, I have read many other series out of order that I greatly enjoyed, such as Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I started from the tenth book. I can see that The Mirror Chronicles is not for me, but I'm sure that Rachel appreciates having such dedicated readers as yourself. Have a great day!
Sugar said…
Hmm I think I understand that if you didn't like the book and but it's certainly hard to believe that the book really was confusing, disconnected and without conflict when it's not independent and the thing is that within a series the author doesn't have to make each The book is independent or understandable for those who have not read the saga for a reason, it is a saga.
But I can concede that the book should be able to convey emotions.

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