A Witch in Winter tells the story of Anna, a girl who moves away from her beloved London to a town on the South coast, and into a creeptastic old house. I absolutely adored the setting for this book, I love YA books set in the UK (especially ones written by UK authors), and the small town location really added to the atmosphere of the story. I love how relevant the sea became to the plot, and just how scary it could be, how such a beautiful and natural element could be utilised in such a way.
Anna was a great character, she was a real teenage girl. Her reactions to the events were pretty much how I imagine I'd react, which made it easy to love and relate to her. I adored how the whole witchcraft thing came about, her and her friends trying out a spell for the fun of it (and because they were slightly inebriated, what doesn't seem like a good idea when you're in that state?). I was obsessed with magic when I was younger and I can see it being something I would've done, albeit not with the same results. I loved how Ruth didn't shy away from teenage drinking, or things that young people genuinely do, which again added a much more realistic element to her characters. None of the secondary characters fell flat for me, not even the ones introduced at the late stages. They all had their parts to play, and their roles were clearly defined within the plot.
The love story was so fantastically different, I loved the idea of it and it was so well executed. I loved the ambiguity of not knowing exactly what was going on. Despite that, I wasn't a massive fan of Seth, but then he wasn't the sort of love interest I take to, seeing as he was a decent guy, but I can see many other readers adoring him.
The ultimate battle was amazing, the enemy was one that I actually found quite scary, and the solution was neither easy nor lazy. The actions of the characters did have consequences, for everyone involved and for the people caught in the crossfire.I liked being able to see these consequences, rather than the story glossing over them which happens so often. The witchcraft was very clever and well rooted in genuine old English. It's clear a lot of research went into creating this aspect of the plot which is something I always appreciate.
The writing was fantastic, pacy and full of humour and suspense, it wasn't superior to the plot and complemented the tone of the book perfectly. This is an excellent example of paranormal YA. It has everything you'd expect from this type of novel, but it avoids the cliches and predictability that so often mar such a story for me. I think the cover is absolutely spectacular and I cannot wait to see the finished article!
This book is part of a trilogy, and it's a series, and an author, to watch.