Winterspell by Claire Legrand | Book Review #90


The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand is a book that I had hoped I would end up liking, and Legrand did not disappoint. Winterspell is a fast paced story based loosely on the Nutcracker story. In this book there are fae, mages, and seemingly forbidden love. 

When I first initially heard of this story, I was scrolling through tumblr and found a post that was recommending fairy tale retellings. Now, I enjoy fairy tale retellings, even though there are, what seems like thousands of retellings out there now. The fairy tale retelling that I hadn’t crossed yet was The Nutcracker. I loved the ballet when I first saw it at the theatre in first grade. And I loved it again when I saw the Barbie movie version. Winterspell is a combination of olde New York, and the future as we predict it. I absolutely love what Legrand did with The Nutcracker’s story. She managed to make it creepy (as fuck), sexy, and even dark at some moments. I love the magical-ness in this story. And uuugh (good ugh) Legrand even included a frustrating part of the original play, BUT IT GOT BETTER AFTER THAT and I am so freaking happy that everything turned out the way it did.

Claire Legrand’s retelling of The Nutcracker has it’s ups and downs. I won’t lie about that. When I read this story, I thought that I would never get to the end of the book. Nearing the half way point of the plot is when I started to get even more into the book than I already was. – Not to say that the book was boring in the first half, it wasn’t boring at all. In fact, some parts of the book were so alike the movie/original story, that it actually managed to creep me out a little. There’s some action that kept me on the edge of my seat as well.

In the beginning of Winterspell, we really see who Clara is as a young girl. With her mothers death anniversary soon, her family is on edge. Clara’s father did not take the death of his wife well, and was swallowed by his own grief. This actually has a huge part-take in the overall story. By the middle of the story, we’re been thrown into a loop. Things are not what they seem, and Clara isn’t sure who she can trust. All Clara knows is that she has to rescue her father, and that Nicholas is the only one who is there with her.

Nearing the ending of the book, the story heats up really quickly. It’s like the plot was thickening for the last 3/4’s of the book and in this last 1/4 of the book, the story decided to take a run and start some major action. Everything seems to take off, and everyone is pretty much like go-go-go.

What I really like the ending of the story is that the antagonists are beaten. I haven’t read many books with the ending to certain characters like the one who died did. The ending overall though, the ending or the beginning(???!!!!!!) is awesome. I want to read the last few pages of the book over and over again. Just because I liked the way the story ends so freakin’ much.

Clara is actually a strong character, and she has so much character growth in this book. It’s crazy. Clara goes from being this character who was scared; yet defiant, who then over the course of this book, grows into a strong, cunning, young lady. Clara cares so deeply for her family, and through her actions in this book, we see just how much she actually does care. And by the end of the book, Clara has found a new family that she loves just as much as the one she was born into. I don’t think that many authors have the capability to write how much a character cares for another without saying the words “I love you” but Legrand has done so in Winterspell.

There were scenes in this novel that even I didn’t predict, so at moments like those, especially at moments like those, I read with my eyes wide open. I was completely rapt throughout reading this book. I loved this book, and I am so glad I got the chance to read it, hahah. I only wish that I had bought it in paperback instead of borrowing Winterspell from the library!

I have to admit: The way that I predicted the a part of the story was pretty spot on. Aside from that though, the story is an amazing new addition to The Nutcracker files.

Thank you for reading my review of Winterspell! You can click the cover below to be lead to Winterspell on GoodRead’s!


Thanks again!


3 thoughts on “Winterspell by Claire Legrand | Book Review #90

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