“The tremor faded and passed, it was but a whisper, an echo of something far away. Yet, with it came a reel of decay, and the carrion stench of torn flesh.”
My latest read was something way out of my comfort zone. That’s one of the best things about our book club – we can read any book of any genre, and open our eyes to the works of other authors out there. This one was very unique and even though it was difficult to read at times, the overall story does tug at the old heartstrings.
Winterhued by E. H. Alger follows Princess Winterhued’s story. She’s a troubled member of royalty, haunted by bad dreams and a King who sees her as unfit for ruling the kingdom. When her fears rear their ugly heads, she proves she has what it takes to fight for her people. Wait a minute… who is the knight battling outside the castle walls alongside an unlikely sidekick? Will he be just the person the castle needs to be free?
Princess Winterhued is obviously a woman of high power and authority. It’s clear that she is a beautiful woman and that people look up to her. The opening chapter focuses on the Princess – it teaches us about her role in her kingdom and what is expected from people of royalty and the rules they have to abide by. The description within the first chapter really eases us nicely into the setting, which brings me onto my first main point to discuss.
The language used throughout this book is very “old-English”. For me, it was quite difficult to read. Some of the terms were hard to understand and I had to look up some of them in order for a sentence to make sense. Due to this, it made the reading experience slow in the beginning. However, the more you read, the more your brain becomes accustomed to this language and you start being able to decipher it more and more. The human brain is a clever thing! E. H. Alger seems to have a wildly clever mind – her storytelling skills are extraordinary.
There are a lot of characters to remember in the story, and I feel that in order to get a really good grasp of the people involved, I’d have to read through the book again. I think I managed to get an okay view of who was who to get me through the book, however, and I really appreciated the humour of some of the characters. I really liked how the king was trying to show the Princess different husband-worthy people, but she was not having any of it!
“And what a splendid sight his three teeth do make when he doth laugh.”
As the story unfolds a little further, we finally get to witness the dreams that the Princess has, the ones that terrify her to the core. I couldn’t help but wonder…were these visions a sign of things to come? I felt these dreams built up so much fear for Winterhued herself, but so much excitement for the reader.
When she discovers that her servant has been having the same nightmare as her, that’s where things become even stranger. The outside world seems to know this too and weird goings on start to happen. It seems things are beginning to get much more dangerous than they once were…
With the world burning, people dying and a strange creature lurking in the shadows, it goes without saying that the middle of the story was very mysterious and exciting. We don’t know what this creature is initially, just that everyone is scared of it and its whereabouts. Then…a dragon?! People laugh at the nonsense from one of the characters, but I can’t help but think there is some truth to that. This creature has taken the keep as its lair!
The point of view changes regularly from Winterhued and the other people inside of the keep to a brave Knight, his stallion and a boy (who really isn’t enjoying himself). I really liked how we have an inside look, how Winterhued and her people are coping and reacting to the terror going on, as well as an outside view of the world, and how the Knight travels their way.
It took me a while to notice this, but at the end of every scene, there is a little icon which symbolises where we are in the story. Without this, it I feel it could be difficult to keep on track with everything that’s going on. Some parts during the middle of the book lost me a bit, but again, this feeling could simply be due to the language used. I guess those who have a genuine interest in this era will favour it more than I did. I still have to applaud E. H. Alger on her tone of voice – it can’t have been easy writing in this way constantly!
“I have seen the dying and felt their terror, and I know that no mortal man, however brave and fearless, could slay this creature.”
The story gets darker and darker the further we go and we witness the castle burning down bit by bit, the characters’ fears as they lose friends and relatives and the ever growing fear for what’s outside those castle walls. At this time, everyone in there is in danger, and we follow multiple characters around, a lot of them with different goals. I feel like we sometimes steer away from Princess Winterhued too much, even though the story is based on this character, but this being said, we do get a good insight to the other characters, helping them to come alive too.
There is a part of the story I really liked, where Winterhued tells a story to her cousin, Brenn. This story is very involving and I often got lost in Princess Winterhued’s words. It gives a great insight into her past and what has shaped her into the woman she has become, as well as a bit of history and extra information to help keep the reader invested in the story. We can knit together Winterhued’s story with the Knight’s journey, giving us hope for not only the characters, but for the castle’s safety too. However, their fate has yet to be decided…will everyone emerge from the castle safe? Or will they meet a nasty end?
There are many scenes towards the end of the book involving the dragon and where our character’s lives hang in the balance. I really liked these scenes – I’m a fan of a dragon or two myself, and E. H. Alger’s description of the stench of the creature, and the way it breathed and moved really caught my attention the most. It almost felt as though the author of this book has been face to face with one of these mythical creatures herself! It’s clear she has a great love for all things mythical from the story and she has captured it well for her readers.
The ending for each character is different, which is something I really liked. It’s as though each character had their own full-length story going on throughout the book and it was only at the end that I picked up on this – from seeing their fate, whether it be good or fatal. The author of this book rounded things off nicely with each character, and it didn’t feel like anything was left uncovered or unanswered.
“Aye, it doth seem we have tumbled into a fairytale…except that most fairytales have happy endings, and who knoweth how this may end?”
I think I enjoyed the ending of the story more than the rest. I feel it teaches us a lot about the Princess; what she is actually capable of and what it means to her people as she and the Knight go out of their way to save others. It’s action packed and in fact, it might not be the ending you’d expect. It’s not as cliche as you might think!
I’ll be honest, I found this book pretty difficult to get in to, but I strongly believe it’s because of the language used. I genuinely think it’s a clever way of writing and I think E. H. Alger has done a really impressive job, but it’s not something that interests me when I come to picking up or finding a book.
On the flip side, for people who are indeed interested in this era, I think this book will really blow them away. I appreciate the story behind those words and I really liked Princess Winterhued’s character. I really think we can learn a lot from her.
Thank you to E. H. Alger for submitting Winterhued to our book club for review! You can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon, available in paperback. 📚
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