A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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