4 out of 4 stars
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Once I started The Hunt for Winter by KC Cowan & Sara Cole, I could not put it down. Even though this is the second book in a series, I never felt as though I were missing information. When I picked up the book, I thought that "Winter" referred to the season and that the quest was to bring the season back; however, I quickly discovered that Winter referred to a small boy born just an hour before the Vernal Equinox (beginning of spring). His twin sister waited until after the equinox to make her arrival and was thus named Spring.
From page one, I fell in love with both Winter, Spring and their mother, Queen Irene of Cabbage. The small family lives in the royal palace with loyal servants and one very old wizard, Seevers. Seevers is tasked with training Winter in the magical arts. It is thought that only two of the old wizards remain and that Winter is the only child wizard left. Anton, one of the last wizards and Queen Irene's husband, had passed away sometime before the twins were born.
Fast forward five years, and the real story begins. On the day that the twins are celebrating their 5th birthday, tragedy strikes. Winter is tricked into going off alone with a stranger. Who is Zarohdin, and what does he want with Winter? When Winter's disappearance is known the next day, Queen Irene, Seevers, and the queen's best friends set off on a perilous journey to recover the prince. Unwilling to be away from her mother, Spring smuggles herself along. What follows is adventure, magic, tragedy, and love. Zarohdin manipulates and exploits Winter, but to what end? What is his goal? The travelers meet with many dangers and find unlikely allies in unexpected ways. When the two story threads finally converge, all hope seems lost.
The plot moves quickly, but not so quickly that I couldn't keep up. Even though there were many characters with a backstory from the first book, they were so richly drawn, I felt that I knew each of them well. Information from the prequel was not spewed out in one irritating data dump nor was it left to the imagination. Instead only what we need to know to enjoy the second book was naturally woven throughout as necessary.
This book is a study in contrasts. Betrayal contrasts against pure love, and greed is seen next to selflessness. The heroes of the book are both male and female. Both genders work together without rancor toward the other. However, there is a strong message against the exploitation of females throughout. Two towns that must be passed through have counterparts in modern society. One town featured harsh penalties for any female who was not fully hidden or submissive to the male authority. The business of the other town was the exploitation of females through prostitution. Although the cultures of the two towns were not central to the overarching plot, they did go hand in hand with Zarohdin's ideology, making this book a social commentary.
I found no errors in spelling or grammar throughout the book and the editing is clean. Since the plot and characters are so strong, the writing is enjoyable, and it has a deeper message for those who are interested in more than a mere fantasy, I am glad to rate this 4 out of 4 stars. Even though some adult topics are introduced, they were tactfully handled without racy details. I would recommend this to young adult or possibly older teenagers.
The Hunt for Winter
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