Winter’s Child

Written by RJ Hervey
Review by J. Lynn Else

15th-century Florence: In one night, one man destroyed Amadora’s life. Her mentor and father figure: murdered. Herself: violated and left for dead. Her home: burned to the ground. After her mysterious survival from the fire, Amadora is accused of being a strega, a witch. Hunted and on the run from the Inquisition, Amadora is determined to kill the man who ruined her life. Then she’s visited by an angel who tells her the price of her vengeance. If she murders the nobleman, the child growing inside her will die.

The story is richly researched. There’s a strong sense of time built on believable mindsets and the gritty struggles of life. However, there were many times Amadora “couldn’t remember” how she got somewhere. Instead of describing the journey, the author goes into lush descriptions of specific destinations. Thus, I never felt like I was walking through a city, only through specific sites.

The story lacks a relatable narrator. Amadora shows no growth and often runs into situations without thinking. Those who care for her often come to terrible endings, and she shows no remorse for them. Her emotions are rarely more than scared or angry. Amadora’s fear of men’s touch after the rape brings in some emotional intrigue, but it couldn’t overcome the overall gray, sentimental malaise. She never confronts her feelings, only buries them, and this makes her a weak female lead.

There’s a very thoughtful deconstruction of the common assumptions of the period, leading readers to believe there will be a culminating payoff or twist to Amadora’s destructive path. Unfortunately, this book delays this reveal to the next installment, and things are left unsatisfyingly in limbo. Overall, while I found the characters disappointing, the prose and places are conceptualized quite well.