Abi Elphinstone: Winter Magic (Simon & Schuster 2017)
Winter has a special atmosphere. Of course, Christmas also plays a big role in this, but the period that follows it is also special: walks in the cold, snowy landscape, icicles on the eaves, iceflowers on the window. And if it’s really cold outside, we can curl up in a warm armchair with a blanket, a warm drink and a good book. Many books are set in winter or have winter scenes: The Chronicles of Narnia, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, The Call of the Wild, The Snow Queen and The Nutcracker, and several of Sophie Anderson’s novels. I really like to read wintery books in the winter and I recommend this book of short stories to people like me, in which you can read stories of 11 award-winning authors, all of which are set in the coldest season.
In the book, we find fantasy and contemporary short stories, adaptations of fairy tales and even a poem. Among my favorites was the story of Emma Carroll (Sky Chasers, Frost Hollow Hall). In this story, Maya visits an old-fashioned winter fair to make friends and understand her own grandmother better. Katherine Woodfine is known for her adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, published in the Awesomely Austen series, and her middle grade mystery novels. Now we can read from her about the 1892 premier of the Nutcracker ballet, which is a fictional story, but many of its elements and characters really existed. I read from Berlie Doherty for the first time and I really liked her short story, in which she set the story of the Snow Queen in the present day and introduced a family that had recently suffered a tragedy.
I liked Lauren St. John’s short story the best: The Room with the Mountain View. The main character of the story, Lexie, broke her leg in two places during the first hour of the first day of the school ski camp without even going near the track. You’d think she’d be really distraught, but you’d be wrong, because she had no desire to learn to ski in the first place, so this was a relief for her. As compensation, she got the ‘Room with the mountain view’, where she finally has time to read mysteries. However, she realizes that witnessing a murder in real life is less funny than in the books. I haven’t read any other writings from the author yet, but I definitely will. She grew up in Zimbabwe on a farm in a game reserve. The experience had a great impact on her, which is reflected in her stories, such as the White Giraffe*, and in her involvement in the work of the Born Free Foundation. The author also published her mystery series starring Laura Marlin and Kat Wolffe.