Among the current deluge of mediocre fantasy novels for older children, a few stand out as genuinely worthwhile, and 'Winterbringers' is one of them. Based on an authentic account of an eighteenth-century witch trial, it involves the attempts of two modern teenagers to link with, and partially counteract, the previous witches' attempts to increase the power of Summer in Fife - an endeavour that anybody who knows Fife can only approve of! The idea sounds wimsey, but it is well handled; the story is exciting, quite often scary, and the unnatural winter conditions are chillingly (!) evoked.
I give this three stars as a well-constructed, well-paced, enjoyable read. The main reason I won't go higher is the flimsy characterisation. The teenage protagonists, Josh and Callie, have potential as a contrasting pair - ordinary city boy and gifted country girl - but this potential for tension and human drama is scarcely tapped in the story. Rose, Callie's witch grandmother, likewise has unrealised potential, but the other characters are virtual nonentities. I didn't feel any personal concern for any of the characters; the interest lies exclusively in the incident, which means that the book might not stand up well to a second reading. Another, lesser gripe is that the author has made no attempt whatever to reproduce the language or thought-patterns of the eighteenth century. That is intellectual laziness, of a kind that's all too common in time-slip stories. People in past ages were not 'just the same as us', and they most certainly didn't talk like us.