Guide/Reviews Database
Hargrave, Kiran Millwood

The Way Past Winter

(2) 4-6 Twelve-year-old Mila and her siblings Oskar, Sanna, and Pípa are barely hanging on after their father abandoned the family during an unending winter. Then a stranger with a troop of boys in tow appears, seeking shelter, and by morning they've gone, taking Oskar with them. The girls learn that all the boys in town, save the mage Rune, have vanished following the stranger's passage. Rune offers to accompany Mila and Pípa to rescue their brother but the rescue itself is up to the sisters. Hargrave balances the narrative between wintry adventure and spellbinding fairy tale, incorporating Mila's late mother's stories about a bear, the Eldbjørn, who protects the forest and his home in the heart-tree, and mingling magical elements with thrilling survival episodes of getting caught in an avalanche or attacked by wild animals. Mila's connection with Rune is one of the novel's emotional touchpoints, a haven in an unforgiving world, and Rune honors Mila's ability to care for others and truly see the world around her, qualities that make her moments of heroism authentic. (Pípa has her time to shine as well.) A generous helping of action adventure flavors this engaging folkloric fantasy.


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