Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Winter Shadows by Margaret Buffie

From Inside Jacket: It is the winter of 1856, and Beatrice Alexander has just returned from Upper Canada to her home on the Red River, in what is now Manitoba. As her father's new wife drives a wedge between her and Papa, Beatrice can only be sure of the comfort of her beloved Cree grandmother, relegated to a room upstairs. Shadows hover around Beatrice, who feels trapped by her circumstances and the growing prejudice against those, like herself, of mixed Cree and Scottish blood. As she explores her visions and her unfulfilled life through her journal, Beatrice is suddenly confronted by a fateful choice: Should she settle for a man she doesn't love and embark on a journey of adventure or stay where she is and hope to eventually find happiness? Five generations later, in the same house, Cass feels the same long winter shadows pressing in on her. Her mother has died and her father's new wife is cold and distant. Miraculously, when Cass discovers the star brooch belonging to Beatrice, her visions lead her to Beatrice's diary. Is she really able to communicate with Beatrice across time, or is it all in her imagination?

My Rating: 4 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: It was initially hard to get into Margaret Buffie’s Winter Shadows because each chapter alternates between Cass and Beatrice so it was a little jerky, but it became a lot easier to read once both girls’ stories started to overlap a bit. I was also expecting that Cass would time travel, but she actually is only able to get glimpses of Beatrice and read her journal in real time, which I really liked because I believe that spirits can exist but time traveling … not so much.

Although Buffie does a really good job developing both Cass and Beatrice, I found Beatrice’s character more captivating because I’ve never read a book where the protagonist was Métis (a mixture of First Nations and European descent). Having always loved studying Canadian history, it was interesting to read a bit about some of the prejudice the Métis would have experienced by the full-blooded Europeans. Beatrice even used Cree words, which made her story more authentic!

Winter Shadows was released by Tundra Books on October 12, 2010.

Comments About the Cover: The colours work really well together and give off a mysterious and desolate feel. I’m also going to assume the diary is on a window ledge otherwise it just seems out of place, especially because there’s snow and footprints in the background.

Winter Shadows was received for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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