Inspired by Russian lore, Sisters of the Winter Wood is a mix of fairy tale, Ukrainian history, Jewish religion, and coming-of-age that tie together in ways I didn’t expect. Two sisters are left to fend for themselves just as mysterious things start happening in the woods where they live. With the girls facing challenge after challenge, this was one of those story lines that drew me in until it was done.
I was unfamiliar with many of the story’s themes, and that added to my surprise at each twist and turn. I wondered constantly how I might have dealt with their circumstances. When you need to feed yourself, protect yourself, and keep a life-changing secret, which takes priority? Weaved into the struggle is the obligation of sisterly duty; the sisters are opposites, and so are their ideas of the best solution, but they’re determined to protect each other. Rena Rossner separates the sisters even before the story starts by having one read in prose and the other in poetry. As the adventure progressed, I enjoyed listening to the characters balance the line between what their life was, and the fantastical world it became.
Ana Clements’ narration was well-paced and smooth. Her voice was well-suited to a fairy tale and it’s clear in her speaking when the prose and poetry changes with the sisters’ points of view. She was good at transitioning between different accents for different characters, and seamlessly integrated the Jewish words as she read.
This was a lovely tale of fantasy and family that kept my curiosity and imagination churning.
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