A Winter's Promise: The Mirror Visitor Quartet, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
A Winter's Promise: The Mirror Visitor Quartet, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Excellent world-building, but fantasy saga starts slow.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Raises question about politics and how family dynamics affect them. It might foster discussion of fictional world-building and how authors devise detailed settings for their stories.

Positive Messages

It doesn't pay to underestimate people who seem shy and awkward but may actually possess hidden talents. Even among the most ruthless social circles, there are people who'll offer kindness and compassion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ophelia is clumsy, shy, awkward, but also fiercely intelligent. She learns to stand up for herself and refuses to be a pawn for anyone else.


Ophelia is emotionally abused throughout and endures a bad physical beating. Members of Dragon clan have psychic powers that cause others to experience headaches, to feel as if they are being slapped, or to actually be cut on the face. Elderly character survives poisoning. A mother recalls deaths of her young children. Entire family is reported to have been massacred.  


One villain seduces various women, brags about "deflowering" others. He and a lover are discovered in an illicit embrace. Ophelia and various supporting characters say openly that her engagement to Thorn is for breeding purposes only.


Thorn is called a "bastard," in the literal sense. "Whore" and "slut" are used to describe women on a couple of occasions. "Dammit" and "hell" appear two or three times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ophelia drinks champagne, becomes tipsy. She's forced to smoke cigarettes. Various minor characters smoke opium or cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Christelle Dabos' A Winter's Promise is the first volume of an epic fantasy saga. It follows Ophelia as she journeys to another "ark" to be engaged to Thorn, the powerful and taciturn Treasurer. Ophelia is mistreated throughout, emotionally abused and at one point physically beaten. Swearing is infrequent, mostly a handful of uses of "hell," "damn," "bastard," "whore," and "slut." Sexual content is fairly low, limited mostly to an antagonist who brags of "deflowering" young women. Villainous supporting characters indulge in smoking, drinking, and drug use.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEllaaaaaaat January 15, 2021
Adult Written byKaris M. January 29, 2019
The world building in a winter's promise is excellent, but this book is just the beginning of the story so there is no resolution at the end. Ophelia is... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytoydoll59 January 21, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written bymstuart2 November 30, 2020


Content: 13+
Reading Level: 10th-12th grade

A Winter's Promise is the first book of the Mirror Visitor Quartet by French author Christelle Dabos. It has... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of A WINTER'S PROMISE, museum curator Ophelia is abruptly told she must leave her life behind and become the fiancée of a nobleman from a far-off land. She and her aunt are taken to the Pole, where they are immediately thrust into potentially deadly court intrigue. Ophelia is told she has been selected to be Treasurer Thorn's wife in name only, which suits her just fine, given how cold and seemingly unyielding the man is. Luckily, Ophelia has two abilities that might save her: traveling through mirrors and reading the pasts of handheld objects.

Is it any good?

No reader wants the main character of a novel to be too much of a "punching bag," and the protagonist of this epic, intricate fantasy novel narrowly escapes being a passive downer. Abuse is heaped upon Ophelia for much of the first half of A Winter's Promise, but author Christelle Dabos eventually has the young woman find the fortitude she needs to assert her own agency. It is, however, a long journey of emotional development, and sometimes the plotting feels repetitive. A best-seller in France, A Winter's Promise is the first volume of a quartet, so perhaps later installments will move at a faster pace. This book is not for everyone but will likely resonate strongly with the right audience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how A Winter's Promise portrays an arranged marital engagement. Why do some societies encourage parents to choose mates for their children?

  • Why are some activities and careers considered to be for men only? How can girls push back against that attitude?

  • Ophelia is taken from her home without much choice in the matter. How might an abrupt separation from your homeland affect you? How do refugees cope with leaving their old lives behind?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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