Book Review: Red Winter Trilogy

RW1Red Winter
Dark Tempest
Immortal Fire
Annette Marie
Fantasy
About 350 pages each
Published 2016, 2017, 2017

So I didn’t actually realize this series was written by a Canadian author until the end of the first book, when I skimmed the “about the author” section! I picked up the first book on a whim – the entire trilogy is free on Kindle Unlimited – and I am so, SO GLAD I DID. This trilogy is amazing. It’s a little anime-like – the illustrations are definitely drawn in anime style and there’s about ten per book – but it’s simply beautiful writing, blending elements of Japanese mythology with a beautifully sweet romance and an epic fantasy task. (Release trapped gods and goddesses and stop a goddess.) The main character was likeable, sweet, and a little naive, but she realizes why she is naive and consciously works to overcome that.

The first book starts with a revelation – Emi has been training for ten years to receive her goddess into her body, with the expectation that their personalities will meld – only to discover that the goddess’s divine energy will instead destroy Emi’s mind and personality. She will be dead while the goddess inhabits her body. Which will be happening two months from the book’s beginning, so she doesn’t have much time to change her fate. The goddess herself is not unsympathetic, and wishes it could be different. I loved the interaction between Emi and her goddess. The compassion, love, and regret shown by Amaterasu means it’s impossible to dislike her, even though we know she’ll be the agent of our protagonist’s death.

RW3But all is not as it seems among the gods, and Emi is attacked by someone who should be an ally, and defended by those who should want her dead. Conspiracies unravel in the second book, as Emi and her friends race to finish the task set them by Amaterasu – a task that must be finished before the winter solstice, when Amaterasu will descend into Emi’s body and destroy her mind. Dark Tempest ends with the task still uncompleted, and Immortal Fire picks up immediately. (I read almost the entire trilogy in one sitting – I finally set the third book aside and got some sleep before the final confrontation.)

RW2I don’t want to say too much, and I’m only going to include the description on the first book, because I don’t want to spoil anything. I liked Emi, I absolutely loved Yumei, the dark, standoffish Crow Lord, and Shiro the kitsune was an amazing character. Reveals and pacing and dialogue and action and exposition were all excellently done. This is a gorgeous, absorbing trilogy and I highly recommend it.

 

From the back of Red Winter:

In a few short months, Emi’s mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess–and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command–whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate–but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

 

About the author:

Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every single book.

Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness — sorry, cat — Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

To find out more about Annette and her books, visit her website at www.authorannettemarie.com.

Canadian Book Challenge and other Miscellany

No book review today, unfortunately, the last few days have been more chaotic than I was expecting. But next week I’ll be reviewing The Crown’s Fate, the sequel to The Crown’s Game, a duology about Russian enchanters serving the Tsar. Spoiler: The Crown’s Game was absolutely amazing, and so far, Fate is turning out to be a worthy successor!

I have signed up for The 11th annual Canadian Book Challenge! I’m really excited to expand my reading outside of my normal comfort zone (urban fantasy, high fantasy, etc) and try to read more multiculturally. I’ve been researching books by First Nations authors, but the hard part seems to be finding books my library actually has! It’s supposed to be 13 Canadian books (set in Canada/about Canada/written by Canadians) in the next year. (Canada Day to Canada Day.) So if all goes well, one of my book reviews each month should be about a Canadian book!

20170708_141810In other news, my husband and I helped a friend vend at Anthrocon in Pittsburgh last weekend, and that was an extraordinary amount of fun! I got a little bit of reading time in the hotel room while she was at parties, but I spent the largest amount of my weekend selling leather masks to people. She had a record weekend, so it was pretty awesome. All of the hotels and restaurants near the conference center go all out for the Con – our hotel keys have original art of a derpy-looking unicorn! I got a couple of chances to walk around the vendor room, and there were a couple of small publishing houses there, but (and this makes perfect sense, it’s Anthrocon, after all) they catered exclusively to Anthro writing. I thought about picking up a book anyway, but I just didn’t see anything that called to me. I don’t mind fantasy whose world involves anthro animals – I loved Redwall, after all – but all of the blurbs felt much more like “this book is about anthropomorphic animals doing stuff because they’re anthropomorphic” than “they just happen to be humanoid animals doing things.” It’s a small distinction, I suppose. And for the main audience at the Con, not an important one. (I’m obviously not the target audience.)

I have a lot of interesting books heading my way in my local library system, including a biography of Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show fame), a memoir by an abortion doctor, and a retelling of Captain Hook’s origin story. Exciting things to come!