This Christmas Eve… no creature was stirring… Except, maybe, a mouse. At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse?
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Author: Chantal Gadoury
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Page Count: 292
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Christmas
Cover Artist: Kathryn Thompson
My Rating: ★★★★½
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
See my full review of this book on my blog along with others at: foalsfictionandfiligree.com
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Violence, Class Division/Prejudice
BLURB: A retelling of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King reminiscent of The Secret Garden, Winter Dream is a beautiful gesture to this Yuletide tale.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been acquainted with the story of The Nutcracker. I’ve actually never read the original German tale, and only saw the ballet rendition when I was a young child. Considering this fact, I won’t be able to compare Winter Dream intimately to its original form and how it aligns and deviates. Honestly, I’m not too concerned with doing so, as this is a retelling. After all, deviations are allowed when considering this genre!
Opening the first pages (or the first screen on my Kindle) I stepped into the scene of a chilly Christmas Eve party held in Imperial Russia. Set in a different culture on top of a different time period could easily place a strain on plots simply due to the necessity of explaining these differences. I found that this story was uninhibited by a majority of those details. Since Winter Dream only partially takes place in Russia, many of the smaller and necessary details to include if it had stayed solely in Russia were not needed.
The main societal norm that required focus was how men and women held very different positions during this timeframe, especially among the aristocracy. Men reigned dominant. Women were a necessity, a fascination, but rarely empowered.
They want to know what we are thinking, but they never want to hear us.
Clara Stahlbaum, a young woman born into a family of high-society, is well acquainted with these standard views. Being ahead of her times, Clara disagrees that one should find a suitor simply out of necessity.
Marriage. The idea of it made me flinch as I wrinkled my nose. These had to be more to my life than simply attending fancy parties, prickling my fingertips at needlepoint, and wearing tight corsets. Let alone finding oneself in an arranged marriage, experiencing painful childbirth, and then…
Her forward views place her in a rather precarious position with Viscount Yakov Petryaevy, as he aims to court her.
For anyone who loves strong women front and center, this book has just that! What I like most about Clara is that she is a girl with a conscious. Not only that, she isn’t invincible like this character trope likes to portray. Clara is very capable, yet also needs help at times. She’s real, relatable, and relishable.
Clara is well-developed, with only a few minor inconsistencies. Towards the beginning, she refers to herself as plain. Brunette. Nothing like her closest friend, Masha Lebedev. Yet, throughout the entire book, she’s not viewed by everyone else as being plain. Insta-love is present, however, I found it to be inoffensive as it’s portrayed in the original version of this tale. Besides these points, character development and growth maintain a positive curve.
This book is a beautiful depiction of love. Wholesome, deep, and true. It’s one that will make you feel warm on any cold, winter day. The Nutcracker character and the way he interacts with Clara is so refreshing and pure. I really appreciated how the author rendered this relationship.
The only main issue I had with this book was that I simply wanted more world building of Winter Dream itself. I wanted to be immersed further because it’s such a beautiful realm! It didn’t necessarily take away from the plot by what was provided but was more a personal preference.
Winter Dream is the perfect read for this time of year. Grab your warm beverage of choice, snuggle up in a nice blanket, and delve into this lovely tale!
Sexual content: Kissing only.
Violence: Moderate, but not gorey.
My Rating: ★★★★½
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