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on 9 April 2012
Jenna Burtenshaw's debut novel Wintercraft is the first book in a trilogy. It takes you to Albion a small town in Morvane. Kate, Artemis and Edgar get taken to the city of Fume which is a graveyard city, where the High Council meet. This is where Kate learn's the truth about herself and those around her.

As it tells you in the blurb above Kate's mother and father were harvested by the high council to help in the country's war. 10 years later, their back and their harvest falls on the city of Morvane. The citizens of Morvane have lived in peace, so when a swarm of blackbirds arrive along with the warden's only Kate and her book-store owning uncle Artemis are ready for a fast departure. However when Kate restore's life to one of the blackbirds she is forced to hide in a secret hiding place in the basement of the book-store along with Edgar an employee at the book-store. Silas arrives with the warden's and captures Artemis and takes him on a terrifying journey on the Night Train which used to transport the dead. Silas Dane is the most feared High Council member who is nothing like the other members on the High Council.

Twelve years ago Silas was used as an experiment by the High Council and they damaged his spirit making it so he could never be killed. Knowing Kate is one of the skilled - A rare group of people who have the ability to see into the veil (A place between the living and the dead) - Silas want's her and set's out to get her so she can undo what the High Council did to him all them years ago. Kate need the knowledge of Wintercraft - A very powerful spell book that is kept hidden beneath the graveyard city of Fume - Wintercraft is a book so powerful it is believed to be able to change the fate of Albion forever. Kate ends up questioning the very people she has always trusted, it seems that everyone has their own secret. Where will Kate turn?

This novel was an enchanting read and continues at a nice flowing pace. The character's don't let their personality's show very much but hopefully this will change in the next book and we will learn a lot more about Kate, Edgar and Silas. Wintercraft is definitely the beginning of a great new series in teen fantasy as Kate's journey through Albion and Fume has only just begun. I am really looking forward to reading Blackwatch which is the sequel to Wintercraft.
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on 31 August 2016
Just finished reading Wintercraft and... wow. I never expected anything as incredible as this book. The last sentence still rings in my head as if I'd just read Wintercraft itself. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read worth remembering.
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on 5 May 2010
It's refreshing to read a dark fantasy book that stands alone as a self-contained work, rather than as an open-ended beginning of a trilogy or longer series, yet also manages to bring its world and its characters fully to life. Or perhaps bringing them to life isn't the best term to use in this case, since a sense of death is all around in this world, its mysteries accessible to a special few known as the Skilled, who can look beyond the veil and make use of its powers in a manner that would be of great use to a few ambitious people.

Kate Winter is one of those gifted with such power, but she isn't aware of it until the wardens arrive to harvest the town of Morvane, gathering people to send off and fight in wars that no-one seems to know a great deal about, or indeed even who they are being sent out to fight against. Others however, connected to the High Council of Albion, know not only all about such matters, but also know about Kate and covet the powers that are latent within her. The formidable Silas Dane, commander of the wardens, himself neither dead nor alive, brings Kate to Fume, a vast necropolis, now the capital city of Albion to try and tap into those abilities, but Da'ru Marr of the High Council also has plans for Kate, looking to recover an ancient book of power, Wintercraft, and find a person with the ability to unlock its secrets.

A dark fantasy book aimed at older teens/young adults, Wintercraft is well-paced for its readership. The opening half of the novel feels a little restrictive, with a limited number of characters and minimal background detail, the plot not really extending beyond Kate and her friend Edgar constantly escaping from the clutches of Silas Dane and being recaptured, but it serves its function well, keeping the reader involved without unnecessarily burdening the narrative with up-front information dumping. Eventually, just as the pattern of capture and evasion is getting a little predictable and a little too easy, the storyline develops, the extent of the powers wielded by the Skilled is revealed a little more, and the novel opens up with its exploration of Fume, its inhabitants and its dark secrets.

Wintercraft doesn't go anywhere new in terms of dark fantasy, but the earthly locations and the sense of the otherworld is well evoked, creating a distinct mood and a compelling situation for its young characters to deal with that isn't burdened by preachy life lessons or a condescending moralising tone. The novel seems self-contained, but there is surely an opportunity for a follow-up to explore some more aspects of this world, and that would be very welcome indeed.
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a great little book. I love story of someone finding out they powers they never knew they had. Every body no matter what age has wished they had a super power and what they would do if they had. Good story with twists and turns, enjoyed it very much.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 17 June 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have three boys, ages 15, 13 and 11 and having gave this book to my eldest son to read and review (which he did within three days), he passed it on to his younger brother, who devoured it and passed it on again. I actually had to confiscate it from my youngest at 10pm one night as he wouldn't stop reading it. So, within three weeks this book had been read three times and the comment "When is the next one coming out...?" was made by my youngest son. So, without actually having read the book I can thoroughly recommend it as it received a resounding thumbs up from three members of its target audience. All agreed it was exciting, easy to follow and a very good story.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Normally, I am a great fan of this genre and style of book so I had high hopes for Wintercraft. However, I found myself thoroughly bored and disappointed and have given up on the story half way through. I'm not sure if it is the characters, the pace or just the style of writing in general but I couldn't connect with the story or empathise with the characters at all.

The premise for the story was certainly interesting but, for me, not quite successfully executed.
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Wintercraft is a surprisingly good fantasy adventure story. Basic plot: a young girl lives with her uncle and discovers she has supernatural powers. However, something dark wants those powers and will stop at nothing to get them. This book is a real page turner and as I don't want to give away too much of the plot, I can highly recomment this book be you a young or older adult. Great bed time read!!
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on 9 February 2011
From the first paragraph, you are aware that you are about to embark on a dark and dangerous journey into a Gothic world where the dead and the living are only separated by a thin 'veil'. Kate Winters has the ability to bring life and death together and everyone wants to use her ability, stopping at nothing to get to her. Kate is thrust into a terrifying ordeal from the first few pages of the book and there is no time for her to catch a breath as she sets out to save her uncle Artemis, who has been kidnapped. She plays a constant cat and mouse game with her evil pursuers.

Jenna Burtenshaw has beautifully crafted her characters to make them not only believable but very real. Kate is a feisty lead character, who takes on her newly acquired powers with ease, as though she had unknowingly been waiting all her life to take that role. She is caring and thoughtful, yet brave and forthright. I absolutely loved Kate for her braveness, she stood up to some rather frightening characters that would have found me trembling with fear.

Daru is one of those frightening characters. Imagine a cross between Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmations and Mrs Marisa Coulter from Northern Lights,only scarier and you would have a perfect description of Daru. She will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She has the aroma of pure evil.

Silas is a fascinating character, who I loathed on page one and loved by the last page. He is dark, brooding and dangerous and I look forward to making his acquaintance again in future books within the trilogy. He is neither alive nor dead and fulfills such a complicated role beautifully.

The world created for this book is original in style. Even though it is a dark fantasy there are none of the usual characters found in that genre. You won't find a fairy or a vampire lurking amongst the scenes.

Jenna Burtenshaw has created a dark and creepy setting which is brought to life by her excellent use of imagery. In one scene, I actually felt like I could see everything that Kate viewed before her. She attacked my senses with gusto. I could feel the pain and the fear seeping off the pages.

Jenna Burtenshaw has made a promising start to what I believe will be a wonderful trilogy. I can't wait until April 14th, when the second book is published.
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Since her parents were taken by the wardens 10 years ago Kate has lived with her uncle helping him run their family bookstore in a remote town in Albion. Their quiet life is shattered when the wardens return to the town to round up more men for the countries army. But it isn't just soldiers the wardens are looking for and Silas, the most terrifying warden of all, is specifically searching for Kate as he believes she has an ability that will help him. When her uncle is captured Kate and her friend Edgar are determined to find a way to free him but with Silas and another unknown enemy searching for her can Kate avoid capture herself?

I've had Wintercraft on my to read pile for ages now so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick it up, now I only wish I'd read it sooner. This is a quick and easy to read dark fantasy story that had me gripped from the first page and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. Jenna Burtenshaw has created a scary but interesting world that I will enjoy revisiting in the future.

Kate was a likable main character who is brave and caring, she will do anything to help her family and keep her uncle safe. Throughout the story she discovers that she is one of the Skilled - she can walk through the veil to the land of the dead. I did find she learnt about her ability a little too quickly and easily but I can forgive that because it was so interesting to see what she was capable of doing. The scenes where she steps through the veil reminded me of Garth Nix's Abhorsen series and if you're a fan of those books I'm sure you will enjoy Wintercraft.

My favourite character by far was Silas, at the beginning of the story he was someone it was easy to hate - he seemed truly evil and leaves a string of dead bodies in his wake as he travels across the country. By the end of the book though it is a lot harder to decide if he is really evil or just a product of his circumstances, he was a complex character and I loved trying to figure him out. I'll leave you to decide for yourselves what you think of him but whether you peg him as good or evil I'm sure he will intrigue you! I really hope we get to see a lot more of him as the series progresses.

Jenna Burtenshaw is definitely an author to watch out for and I have high hopes for the rest of the series. If you're a fan of dark fantasy it is well worth checking out the series and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is the first part of the 'Wintercraft' Trilogy (the second book 'Wintercraft: BlackWatch' and the concluding book 'Wintercraft: Legacy' have also been published now). The book follows the story of a fifteen year old girl, Kate Winters, who lives in Morvane on the island of Albion, where she works in her Uncle's bookstore. When she was very young her town was raided by The Wardens, and the townsfolk were rounded up to be sold as slaves or forced to become soldiers in the war against The Continent. While Kate hid, her parents were taken, never to be seen by her again. Since then the Wardens return occasionally to look for 'The Skilled' - those capable of seeing past 'the veil' between worlds and so enter the realm of the dead. It seems Kate has 'The Skill'. Now the Wardens are back, and worst still there's Silas Dane - the High Council's most feared man, whose spirit was damaged by their experiments with 'the veil' - and Silas is convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. Plus there is the legend of 'Wintercraft' an ancient magical book rumoured to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume.

This is a young adults book (age 14+), aimed squarely at teenagers who appreciate such dark tales. My 16 year old daughter said the writing style of the book is the type she likes, and she enjoyed reading the story, so 3.5*. A high score for my daughter, rating it almost as good as 'Inkheart', 'Young Sherlock Holmes' and 'His dark materials' (she loves 'Harry Potter' and rates his books 3*, with The Dresden Files, Michael Morpurgo, 'Chaos Walking' and 'Wyrmeweald' achieving 5*). That said, unusually she hasn't asked for the sequels yet, probably because the book comes to an conclusion of sorts. The book has 278 pages. If you like this type of book, also check out 'The Dreamhunter Duette: The Rainbow Opera/The DreamQuake' by Elizabeth Knox, which my daughter rated very highly.
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