ARC Book Review: THE WIND CHILD by Gabriella Houston

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Purple in white on turquoise qith black flowery border
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE WIND CHILD: title in yellow on navy above graphic of girl riding a yellow bear with flowers and wines

No human has ever returned from Navia, the Slavic afterlife. But twelve-year-old Mara is not entirely human. She is the granddaughter of Stribog, the god of winter winds and she’s determined to bring her beloved father back from the dead. Though powerless, Mara and her best friend Torniv, the bear-shifter, set out on an epic journey to defy the gods and rescue her father.

On their epic journey they will bargain with forest lords, free goddesses from enchantments, sail the stormy seas in a ship made of gold and dodge the cooking pot of the villainous Baba Latingorka. Little do the intrepid duo know of the terrible forces they have set in motion, for the world is full of darkness and Mara will have to rely on her wits to survive.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

THE WIND CHILD is a short, bittersweet little book full of Slavic/pre-Christian Polish mythology. There’s a cast of gods and nature spirits who twine through these pages, and a trickster heroine who’s going to get her father back no matter what.

And yes, bittersweet is a very deliberate choice. It’s also a book about grief and trying to solve the issue of loss/not letting go. I wasn’t sure where the ending would go (would she achieve her goal of getting her father back? Would she not?) but I loved the way it ended. It felt so much more meaningful with that bittersweetness, and the choice presented to Mara that drove home the cost behind her desire.

I loved exploring a mythology I wasn’t familiar with, all these new characters to meet, who had their own caprices and blind spots. It was learning and meeting new faces every time, unlike more commonly published mythology (Greek, Roman) where you know the basic facets of the gods already. This leant for more surprise and wonder. Fiction should make you want to know more, in my opinion – be it about the characters or the stories behind the book. And this did.

The title page of the eARC seems to imply there should be illustrations (“Illustrated by Alexis Snell” under the title.) However, there are no illustrations in the file – though, frankly, 99% of the time that images are included in an eARC, everything goes horribly wrong, so it was nice to have a readable document! Given Alexis Snell was involved in the gorgeous cover, if her illustrations are also inside, then it will doubtless be beautiful.

The ending feels like it’s setting up a possibility of a sequel. The original deal announcement for this book (as far as I can tell) was only for one book, so hopefully it sells well enough to garner a sequel.

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