REPRESENTATION: SOUTH-EAST ASIAN MCS/ SETTING, FF ROMANCE, NB FEMME LOVE INTEREST, NB & GENDERFLUID SIDE CHARACTERS
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: NOVELLA, RETELLING – THE SNOW QUEEN, SCI-FI/ FANTASY
Winterglass is a sci-fantasy about one woman’s love for her homeland (Sirapirat) and her determination to defeat the Winter Queen who has overtaken the land.
The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.
At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.
To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.
If the splinter of glass in Nuawa’s heart doesn’t destroy her first.
I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but you should t least ogle this one for a while because the artwork is stunning. Winterglass has been such a difficult novella for me to rate — I’ve gone back and forth so many times — but I think I can piece some thoughts together now. I think the key word for Winterglass is potential. There’s so much potential here — the plot, the setting, the characters — everything is stuffed full of originality and brilliance. But. But, there are just a few places where it actually shoots itself in the foot.
Sriduangkaew’s writing is beautiful, lyrical and lush — and just a little too much. I’m a sucker for pretty writing full of descriptions and imagery but Winterglass took it too far. The first few chapters especially, took me far longer than they should have to read because I kept getting bogged down in metaphors and having to reread for clarity. Sometimes a metaphor or description ran for so long, I almost forgot what it was describing.
The plot and worldbuilding are both wonderful and so creative. There’s so much going on! Again, this becomes a problem because these things aren’t really explained, or ideas are mentioned and never returned to. This made some part confusing and left me wondering about the abandoned plot lines. The contests themselves were so quickly glossed over that it didn’t really feel like Nuawa was in any kind of peril during the bouts. The characters are exciting — diverse as hell — with personalities you don’t often read about but which all feel well-developed. I loved Nuawa for her strength and her determination — even faced with the most horrible of choices. I really rooted for her. I would have liked to see more of the side characters, more of the queen, and more of the relationship developing between Nuawa and Lussadh.
I think ultimately, Winterglass is just too short for what it’s trying to do. This is a lush fantasy world with a complicated political plot. I wanted at least another 200 pages, if not more. The story sort of feels less like a completed novella and more like sections lifted from a longer novel. If the world-building had been given more explanation and the plot a little more time to breathe, I think this would have been a five-star read. I really, really wish for the author to rework this novella into a longer novel, or even to continue the story as a series. Winterglass would make a great prequel, and I’m excited to see what Sriduangkaew writes next.