Ten years ago Kate Winters' parents were taken by the High Council's wardens to help with the country's war effort.
Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane – the High Council's most feared man – recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council's experiments into the veil, and he's convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace.
The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft – a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft...
Character Development: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Total Score: 63/70
Obtained: Free ARC sent by publisher (Headline)
Age Appropriate? PG-13
Cussing: None or very little.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: A few drug-ish poisons, but certainly nothing too bad.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: LOTS of blood, gore, and murder. Witchcraft. Death. Destruction. Corruption of government. Separation of parent and child.
Jenna Burtenshaw is a writer with obvious talent. Her narrative is perfect for this kind of fantasy--it flows well, is very descriptive, and catches the reader's attention. She pulled off the third person omniscient perspective in a way that was wholly free of awkwardness. Yay!
The setting was a work of art all its own. Every facet of this world, from its politics to culture to society and history, has been crafted carefully around the exhilarating plot and still manages to be unique and fascinating. Though the "magic" aspect of the story made it a tad archetypal and predictable, it was still high-quality old-fashioned adventure fantasy.
Wintercraft's characters were another matter altogether. Some I consider wild successes and the others...not so much. I adored the character of Silas Dane and had sympathy for him long before I cared about Kate. Though he appears to be something of an antagonist (and is certainly not a morally sound individual) I loved him as a character. Conversely, Kate's mindlessness and predictable heroic bravery were slightly annoying, but I came to love her for her spunk as the story progressed. Similarly, the other "good" characters--Edgar and Artemis--I was not too fond of, but I found Da'ru, the twisted evil sorceress, an utterly brilliant creation. Maybe it's just me, but I found Burtenshaw's villainous characters a lot more fun to read.
I recommend this book to hardcore lovers of fantasy or anyone who can appreciate pages packed with intense adventure. The last few pages are particularly intriguing and make me shiver just thinking about them. I eagerly anticipate the next installment from this promising new UK-based writer!