A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (The Mirror Visitor)
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: October 1st 2018
Personal Rating: 4/5
Long ago, following a cataclysm called ‘The Rupture’, the world was shattered into floating celestial islands, known now as Arks. Ophelia lives on Anima, an Ark where objects have souls. Beneath her worn scarf and thick glasses, Ophelia hides two powers: the ability to read the past of objects and their human owners, and the ability to travel through mirrors. When she is promised in marriage to Thorn, the young girl must leave her family and follow her fiancé to Citaceleste, the floating capital of a distant Ark. Why has she been chosen? Why must she hide her true identity?
With a feisty, unforgettable heroine, a rich universe, romance and thrilling intrigue, A Winter’s Promise will appeal equally to readers of Cornelia Funke, Scott Westerfeld and Margaret Rogerson. Discover the first instalment in a grand saga, and a talented new fantasy author.
A Winter’s Promise is a popular French novel that has finally been translated into English!
We follow the story of Ophelia as she is forced away from her home of Anima due to an arraigned marriage. She is quickly taken away from everything she loves and to Citaceleste alongside her fiancé Thorn. However, while she is in Citaceleste she is forced to hide her trust identity and quickly she discovers there is more to the marriage than meets the eye.
What attracted me to this book was the cover — it reminded me of Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky and honestly, it does not disappoint. This book is for those Ghibli fans who are obsessed with Howls Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky.
Christelle Dabos’ world building is beautiful. There is a unique mixture of science fictions, fantasy, steampunk and post-apocalyptic fiction. Every scene is so easy to visualize due to its intricate attention to detail. It really was a Miyazaki movie with fantastical imagery that is unusual but it just works.
Ophelia is one of the most relatable characters I have read in a while. She’s not this insane chosen one with the destiny to save the world. She isn’t special. She isn’t “jaw-dropping” beautiful. She is normal, out of her element, insanely homesick and stressed by all the new things shoved her way. But even with all these things she fights and does things her way because she understands who she is and will not change who she is for anyone else. (She reminds me of Circe from Circe and Movie! Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle).
What’s amazing about the storytelling is that you learn about the world slowly with Ophelia. Never once is there and intense world-building information dump — everything is slow and whimsical.
The plot as a whole is slow paced. There are no real “action” scenes, but the slow-paced book works so well for the story because Ophelia is very slow, calculating and meticulous. When she gets in trouble and starts acting quickly is when the pace of the plot picks up.
Overall it was a beautiful novel which left us in a cliffhanger!! I am desperately in need for book two.