Winterwood by Jacey Bedford
“It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered.
Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can.
Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?
Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and disastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?”
So, my initial response to this one is “Not bad”. There were some interesting ideas that the author plays with–notably the parallels between real history and the way it went in this version of England. I wish that had been played with more instead of introducing the Fae, but that opinion reflects my interest in British history. The politics in particular would have been fun to watch as they unraveled.
I think, overall, there was too much crammed into one novel for any one aspect to really shine. There’s pirates, Fae, government agents, a new race called the rowankind, ghosts, monsters, shape-shifters–all sorts of things. My gut feeling is that by paring down these elements to just a few, they would have meshed together much more smoothly. As it is, the story ranges all over England, off to foreign ports, across the ocean, and into the world of the Fae. It’s a lot to fit into one novel.
And admittedly, I found it a little odd that an entire novel centered around opening a box.
Although it took me a while to get into the story, I did eventually find the momentum and went through the last half fairly quickly. I think that was more a function of the pacing picking up than any strengthening of the plot’s cohesion, but it did make the novel easier to get into.
Will I pick up the next book when it comes out? I don’t know. I have hope that the following book might delve into some of those things that I wanted to see.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)