Winterkill: seductive, nervy and enthralling.
Friday saw the start of the #SundayYAthon… where we have to read as many books as we can in a weekend! I was travelling to London to meet a pocket friend of mine (see: amazing online friend) and was reading Orangeboy on the way down (as book 1 of #SundayYAthon) but finished it by the time I got to London so naturally I needed to buy a new book. When we were in Waterstones Piccadilly I was picking up books, obv this is me, and needed another book to read and had already picked up a book for BOGOHP so needed another! I couldn’t find one but having scoured I came across this one. It was the blurb that sold me.
“Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave…
The Council’s rules are strict, but they’re for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year. But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council’s suffocating embrace – especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage. Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall”
I was initially intrigued by the settlement aspect of this book, that this girl lived in a settlement and was very segregated from the rest of the world – this kind of thing really appeals to me, not sure why! That was the thing that drew me to it. The disobedience of teenagedom. The Council, who I guessed were in charge. The council leader who wanted to marry her. I wanted to know more and I am so glad I picked it up because I was NOT disappointed.
This book tells the tale of Emmeline (Em for short) and her life in the settlement. What she does, how she exists, what her life is like there. She’s different from the rest of her townsfolk though. She’s ‘Wayward’ – she breaks the rules, she questions the Council, she doesn’t follow their every saying. The people of the settlement are led to believe in the 3 virtues: Honesty, Courage and Discovery. The people have to do things which abide by these virtues, otherwise their actions are seen as ‘Wayward’ and are punished. Generally punished with doing the “Watch”. Obviously Em is a rule breaker, she makes mistakes and ends up being on “Watch” – she has to watch over the outskirts of the fortification and make sure the “malmaci” (the bad people) aren’t coming after her town. The story goes on from there and there are twists and turns aplenty. More people who seem to be following the way of the Council but who in their own ways aren’t. They don’t follow. They are Wayward but know how to get away with it. I loved the idea of this. The writing was brilliant too. I devoured it in about a day. The plot was so brilliant weaved, with some interesting turns and holes that I didn’t see coming but that when it got to the end I was like “WELL OBVIOUSLY”. Brilliance I say.
The characters of this book were the things I feel most in love with. Em, the main character, is a girl who is curious, she’s interested in knowing more, she wants to know more. She’s “Stained” because of something her grandmother allegedly did years before and she is defined in some ways by her stain – she thinks that’s all people see of her and in some respects, to some of the people in the settlement it is. Alongside Em you meet her lovely best friend Tom. He’s her calm, he is very much a rule abider, he doesn’t like that Em is so willing to be Wayward, to act in such meaningless ways. He likes to stay on the right side of the law. But he very much respects and sees Em for who she is, his best friend. He does things throughout the book that surprised me, but that made me like him even more. In contrast to Tom we meet Kane. Bold, shaved head, strong, works in the kitchens Kane. He’s a thinker, like Em. He’s not afraid to bend rules. There’s a spark between him and Em. Tom and Kane are like chalk and cheese but both have Em as their main thought. I liked Kane. I trusted him instantly. In this book trust is an important thing and he was definitely one I trusted straight away… not like Brother Stockham. I was NOT a fan. He’s smarmy, creepy and just a bit obscure. He grew on me at one point, I thought he was something that he really isn’t. There’s something misunderstood about him, there’s something redeeming to him but he’s not one I knew I liked, nor trusted. He’s a Council leader and I just didn’t like him. He has ulterior motives. There’s also Brother Jameson who I strongly disliked. He’s a man after power. There’s some brilliant characters like Andre, who had my heart. I loved him. He’s definitely one that I knew Em could trust for there aren’t many!
I loved the random interjections of French in this book too. They came very unexpectedly to but I ended up grasping and gripped and wanting more French. As a languages teacher it was lovely to see a language in a book! It kept my brain ticking over.
I can’t wait to read the next 2 now! I’ll definitely be getting them and reading them in the next few weeks!
Have you guys read this?
What do you think?
Have you any recommendations of books like this?
Cult/settlements with rebellious teens. I love them!
Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@eenalol) I always want book recommendations!!