The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

September 11, 2018

First, thank you to Ellen and Orbit books for sending me the most beautiful ARC of THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD.

I could probably write an entire essay on how much I adore the cover for this debut novel from Rena Rossner, but that's not the point of a book review...or is it?

If you know me at all, you know how obsessed with folklore I am, so when I happened upon the synopsis I KNEW I had to have this one and then when I saw the cover, BOY OH BOY...

synopsis from Goodreads:
Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life - even if they've heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.
But before they leave, Liba discovers the secret that their Tati can transform into a bear, and their Mami not a swan. Perhaps, Liba realizes, the old fairy tales are true. She must guard this secret carefully, even from their beloved sister.
Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in the town and Laya falls under their spell-depsire their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not he only dangers lurking in the woods...
The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be - and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer. 

Ultimately, this a coming of age story of two teenaged girls who are left alone in their time of great need with a giant dose of sisterhood thrown in. 

What I liked: 
All of the Jewish/Yiddish culture included in the novel (I LOVE when books are filled with cultures other than my own, especially if they include words in their language!)

The relationship between the two sisters. It was realistic and lovely. There was even a passage near the end that drew a bit of glistening to my eye, so kudos Rossner! If a book can move a reader, I call that a success.  (I really enjoy reading about siblings, especially sisters as I am an owner of eight sisters myself. So, I do consider myself a sister expert.) 

The cover. (Let's face it. This is seriously the most beautiful cover I have ever come upon in the recent years. I am INFATUATED.)

The alternating from prose to verse depending on which sister's POV the chapter was from. (This made it über easy to know which sister you were reading about, plus it was done so well! I loved the different writing styles.)

The interlacing of history AND folklore, even though I wanted there to be MORE of each. (Historical fantasy is my FAVOURITE!)

And here comes the 'BUTs'...

This was definitely more focused on 'coming of age'/'sexual awakening' than dark historical fantasy/folklore. BUT, this book has taught me I definitely do not like 'coming of age' stories, so thank you! 

TSofWW included SO much romance and kissing (and thinking of kissing when the kissing wasn't happening). I am not a fan of romance and I honestly skip over kissing scenes that are anything more than a peck, but this bit is just my own preference. The scenes are written well though!

There wasn't enough of anything outside of the 'coming of age' bits, so perhaps the book needed to be marketed differently and possibly to a younger audience.

my rating: 3/5

Fans of 'Coming of Age' stories are sure to love this one! 

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