It isn’t often that we find a self-published author of YA fantasy who has the skills to make “real” novelists sit up. In the case of Laurie Dubai, the ability to create striking and evocative descriptions of characters and scenes raises the impact of her novels a whole level.
“Winter Fire” is a Y/A fantasy on the romantic side. It is the story of Jenna, a normal teenager with the usual teenage insecurities, especially about her questionable athletic abilities. The breakup of her parents’ marriage lands her where her mother gets a new job: at a ski lodge.
Bad enough that Jenna has to sit and watch all the others have a good time on the hill. Soon she attracts the attention of Bren, the god-like Scandinavian snowboard instructor, who decides that she should learn to board. I would complain about the realism of someone being stupid enough to try to learn to ride a board without instruction, but I did the same stunt myself many years ago when I was old enough to know better. I still have the limp.
This being a fantasy, Bren turns out to be more than just god-like, and the descriptions of him and his family doing supernatural tricks on their boards are a knuckle-dragger’s dream.
If you can suspend your disbelief enough to believe that a Norse god could fall for an American teenager (and hey, this is YA Fantasy, after all), then the rest of this story falls neatly into place.
If I had to complain about anything, I’d say that the plot revolves too much around Jenna refusing to face the reality of her situation, and insisting on doing things her way, no matter how dangerous. Sort of like teenagers tend to do in real life, you know?
I also felt that the reasoning for the ending was a bit weak. I won’t say it’s a “woke up and it was all a dream” ending, but it has that sort of feel. I’m a dog lover too, but we’re talking about Ragnarok, here. The final war of the Norse gods, the destruction of the earth as we know it, and the starting everything over from scratch. And that’s all I can tell you without giving the whole thing away.
I usually read a novel twice for a review: once for a reader’s-first-time impression and once for critical analysis. I read this one a third time for fun. Highly recommended for YA (and older) fantasy fans and all snowboarders.
Five stars out of five.