The Winter Spirits
The Winter Spirits
by E.C. Hibbs
5 out of 5
If you sing to the Spirits, be prepared for their answer...
The Long Dark has come and the Northlands will not see daylight for two months. Silence falls with the snow, and Spirits roam the three Worlds. It is a time of beauty, magic, and danger.
When the Spirit of the Northern Lights steals his best friend’s soul, apprentice mage Tuomas is determined to find help. However, his own fledgling power gets the better of him, and he accidentally rips the Spirit out of the sky, trapping her in human form. Alongside his feared icy companion and the mysterious wandering mage Lilja, Tuomas begins a quest across frozen tundra and into ethereal Spirit realms.
But a terrible shadow lingers just out of sight, its gaze fixed on him. And behind her composed façade, the Spirit holds secrets of her own...
Tuomas has to work with spirits and mages. Meanwhile his mission to save his best friend transforms into much more.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
At 15 years old, Tuomas is a mage-in-training in the Northlands. During a festival to celebrate the encroaching winter, his best friend foolishly insults the Spirit of Lights, and is punished by it, ending in a magical coma.
Tuomas has to set out further north to find a way to wake his friend.
Powerful, but untrained, he lashes out at the Spirit for her meanness, and accidentally rips her from the sky, trapping her in a human form.
I really enjoyed this book. The story has the feeling of fairytales and myths. I know the author has pulled influence from various Arctic cultures, but she's created something new that also feels real and familiar.
I loved the setting - it played as much a part as any of the characters.
Seeing the Northlands through Tuomas' eyes, it's drilled into you how important it is to respect the cold, and how harsh the repercussions are.
The villages aren't fixed points, as the communities migrate together, alongside their reindeer herd. There's a constant sense of togetherness, that if you're in a position to help others (strangers or not), you do; because it's so easy to fall prey to the harsh world.
The supporting cast are great, and all hold their own, from Lilja and Lumi to those that appear only briefly.
Lilja is also a mage, but instead of serving one village, she chooses to wander the country, pausing where she wishes. She used to have her brother for company, but he has forsaken all the rules and has invoked dark magic (I don't think this is a spoiler, as it happens in the opening chapter).
I really liked Lilja, and could definitely relate to the quiet mage who is clearly not a people-person.
I'm not going to say anything about the plot. There are some twists, but I wouldn't call them great surprises, because the story has hints woven throughout it.
It never mattered for me, as I got carried along by the story, loving every minute, without always being able to put my finger on why.
Hibbs is an excellent story-teller, and I can't wait to read more.