The Way Past Winter: a truly magical story about the importance of kindness – to the world and each other
“Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter”
(This review took me so long to write because it only said “I LOVED THIS BOOK OK?”)
I am a MASSIVE fan of Kiran’s work. Like massive. I think Girl of Ink and Stars is one of my favourite books I’ve read in the past few years. I just can’t get enough, and I’m very lucky in that my class have chosen it as our first class read for September. I can’t wait to introduce them to Kiran’s magical writing and watch them fall in love with it like I did.
When I heard that there was going to be MORE from Kiran, I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. I was very lucky in that I got a copy from the publishers (thank you Chicken House!) and it jumped straight to the top of my TBR list (not sorry to the rest of the books on my list). I was at YALC with some friends and I definitely might’ve been a bit anti-social and ignored them to read… but when it’s a book you’ve been waiting THIS LONG for… it’s OK.
The Way Past Winter is an incredible tale of Mila and her siblings, who live in a world of snow and cold – there’s no Spring where they live. One day, mysterious strangers appear at Mila’s door, looking for shelter. When Mila wakes up the next morning, she finds that these mysterious men are gone and have taken with them her brother, Oskar. There is much debate around Oskar’s disappearance as to whether it is because he was taken or he chose to leave – with Mila believing he wouldn’t choose to leave. Mila goes on an incredible journey to rescue her brother. Her journey takes her to places she’s never been, with people she must learn to trust.
The settings in this book are sublime. From Mila’s cabin, which she lives in with her siblings, to the mystical tree, to the frozen landscapes that Mila must travel over in order to rescue her brother. I read this book in the HEIGHT of heatwave, yet I felt like I was in the sled with Mila, travelling through these icy lands. This book is so immersive, it’s like reading and seeing in surround sound (I don’t know how to word that better, I hope you know what I mean!). I would not survive in these conditions. Not at all.
The feeling of magic and mythology is something about Kiran’s books that I absolutely adore and this book is yet another where she does it so beautifully. There’s an incredible feel of mythology about this book that I can’t quite put into words. It sings in its lushness – in comparison to the bleakness of the land Mila lives in.
There’s messages galore in this book that I think are dealt with so incredibly well. This is a story about believing in yourself, being kind to the world around us and trusting that others can do good.
I couldn’t put this book down. The pace of this book is spot on. It’s not too quick, not too slow – it moves smoothly, but with a hint of haste. I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of my time reading. I needed to know what was going to happen, but I didn’t want to miss any of the little details or the incredible vocabulary. The way Kiran writes is lyrical, beautiful and magical.
I know that 10 year old me would’ve devoured these books and absolutely adored them (almost as much as 29 year old me does). Kiran’s books sit so beautifully in classroom/school libraries because they’re stories children want to read, written in a way which appeals to them. They’re magical and true escapism – we all need a good escape when we’re reading.
And yes, it did make me cry.
My goodreads review:
Kiran continues to write worlds that are equal parts magical, foreboding and welcoming, with characters who match. I absolutely adored this book – from the mysterious Rune, to fierce and brave Mila, and stubborn and protective Sanna. I just think this book is wonderfully perfect. Kiran never fails to blow me away.
I have so much to say about this book. There are so many things I want to tell you. So much I need you to know. This book just oozes brilliance – from the characters, to the settings, to the meaning. I can’t recommend this enough for everyone. It is just magnificent.
Have you read anything by Kiran?
Would you survive in a place that had no Spring?
DO YOU ALSO LOVE THIS COVER THOUGH?
The Way Past Winter is out on October 4th, published by Chicken House books.
Follow Kiran on twitter: @Kiran_MH