Saturday, March 19, 2016
In a different England, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, magic is reality. Among the people of Great Britain dwell the Rowankind, a created people that live only to serve humanity, working in menial positions and doing the scut work no one else wants to do. It has been this way for about two hundred years.
Rossalinde Tremayne is a young widow. Due to family complications, she ran away with a pirate captain only to lose him to death after a few short years. At which point she donned men's attire and became the captain of her husband's ship. Since then she has been privateering for the British government, capturing French ships and claiming their cargo. It's been a profitable life and she is now a wealthy young woman.
Called to her dying mother's bed, Rossalinde is burdened with the Winterwood Box. It can only be opened under the right conditions, but Rossalinde doesn't know what those conditions are. She learns, during her visit, that her younger brother Philip has died. She also soon discovers that she has a half-brother, David, the last servant left in her mother's household. David is her mother's youngest child, only fourteen years old, and the result of an alliance between the mother and a Rowankind servant.
Rossalinde's mother had powerful magic and her daughter and her son David inherited it. The mother's family, the Sumners have history with the British royals and their ancester, Martyn the Summoner, called up the storm that sunk the Spanish Armada back in the days of Queen Elizabeth I. But in order gather that much magical power, Martyn stole the powers of the Rowankind and doomed them to servitude. Now, with the Winterwood Box, Rossalinde has the tools needed, with the help of her siblings, to restore the Rowandkind to their power and magic. However, the British government is dead set against the Rowankind being set free and loosing their wild magic upon the kingdom and will do whatever it takes to stop the Winterwood Box from being opened.
But Rossalinde is torn. If she opens the box, it could be bloody rebellion and chaos for Britain, with the Rowankind uprising and their wild, untamed magic running rampant. But if she doesn't, the Rowankind remain unfairly trapped in the servant, laborer class. It all rests on her to decide the fate of her people and her homeland, that is, if British government agents don't kill her first!
This was an okay read. Rossalinde and her allies get beat up a lot and she, or someone else, is constantly recovering from their injuries. That got a bit tedious after awhile. Also I found the last quarter of the book more interesting than the first three quarters, which just didn't grab my attention as I would like.
When they finally open the Winterwood Box, it really doesn't matter at all what is inside it, because she and her allies have already figured out virtually everything they needed to know. That was quite disappointing. She just conjures up an old ghost who reviews the past with them and really doesn't add much at all to their knowledge. So that seemed rather pointless. All that trouble and death for nothing.
I did enjoy the ending, when Rossalinde makes her decision about whether to restore the Rowankind to their power or leave them as servants to humanity. The ending was quite dramatic and quite satisfactory.
For another review, see http://www.speculativeherald.com/2016/01/26/review-winterwood-by-jacey-bedford/.