By Cynthia Ayala
Winter is the stepdaughter of Queen Levana, hated by her, and loved by the people who remark on her kindness. Winter sees Levana for the monster that she is and vows to stop her, to save her love, her lost princess, and the people she cares for. Together with Cinder and her friends, they hope to start a revolution and win the war for the ultimate peace between Earth and Luna. However, all revolutions come with a cost.
Highly anticipated, this novel did not fail to deliver. Characterization has been the key to making this series work as a whole because there are four different retellings here, and none of them sound alike and are in fact, incredibly different. Winter has been mentioned within the previous novels very briefly, but the readers finally have the chance to meet her here and she is a little scary in the sense that not all of her marbles are there. However, that is a good thing; Winter is so frail, so innocent that she has hope even in the direst of situations which makes her more homely, more trustworthy. Winter is a princess, but a very broken one, and her beauty comes from that mental damage. Winter not perfect, none of these characters are, but she is one of the heavily flawed ones, and her flaws are what drive the plot forward.
Again, characterization is key because they are the driving force of this tension driven story that revolves around them trying to dethrone Queen Levana. Everything is coming together in this novel and with that comes a whole lot of tension. Every chapter, every page is full of rising tension and ample going to and from the castle. It takes more than one time to destroy Levana, they go in; they fail, and it repeats. There is heaps bluffing as well and for a book that is roughly 800 pages, that’s a lot. Thankfully, the tension is there and it is hooking the reader in because every attempt that ends in failure is a nail-biting moment, taking away the sense of repetitiveness, which is good for a book of this length. At the end of the day, the novel is both engaging and entertaining to read.
One of the big selling points of not just the novel but also the series as a whole is the creativity Meyer unleashed in her retellings. These may be damsels in distress, but they are more than capable of taking care of themselves. The fairy tale tropes are there, but Meyer also twists them, brilliantly. Those key elements—the lost slipper, the red cape, the long hair and lastly the apple—are all there to represent their origins, but Meyer plays with them so wonderfully that they just add to the story and connect to the past and the readers. These are very much modern fairy tales full of teaching moments just like the originals.
Meyer doesn’t just have a talent for characterization; she also has a strong talent in storytelling and retellings in her unique voice. That is what has made this series wonderful until the very end. (★★★★☆ | A)