Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw

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Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Catherine Bakes
Reviewed by Catherine Bakes
Summary: Wintercraft – a book that will help you raise the dead. A gripping debut novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755370962

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The wardens raid villages and cities for people competent to fight in the war, a war nobody knows anything about other than if you’re sent to fight you don’t come back. The last time they raided Morvane was ten years ago, taking Kate’s parents with them. Kate is taken in by her uncle, Artemis, and grows up in the book shop with him and her friend, Edgar. But now the wardens are back and looking for more people to fight. However, they are also looking for the Skilled – a dying breed of people who can see through the veil of life and death. They want to build an army of the dead.

With the wardens is Silas Dane, a man who used to be dead, but was brought back to life as part of the High Council’s experiment and has been left walking the veil between life and death since.

Artemis has brought Kate up believing that the veil and the Skilled are nothing but myths. But then, while hiding from the wardens, Kate brings a dead bird back to life. Artemis is discovered and taken south on the Night Train to help the war efforts. Kate is kidnapped by Silas; he wants Kate to help him die again, and find peace. What Kate needs to do this is Wintercraft, a book of knowledge hidden deep in the graveyard city of Fume. But the High Council have other plans for Kate and Wintercraft.

This is a gripping debut novel from Jenna Burtenshaw. It reminds me a lot of Garth Nix’s Sabriel, and Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I found it very hard to put this book down and often found myself up past my bedtime huddled up in bed with it. I didn’t want this book to end.

Burtenshaw builds the world of Wintercraft very quickly and clearly, which makes reading it effortless. The world she creates is mysterious and exciting and I was envious of the hidden libraries and spirit wheels – a wall that answers your questions through a series of spinning picture wheels, much like Pullman’s alethiometer.

Kate is a likeable character, and is well written, as is Edgar, and I was touched by his loyalty to Kate throughout. However, the real star of the show though is Silas Dane – a man so seemingly devoid of emotion that you should hate him. Although on the occasions he did show some emotion I felt the urge to give him a big cuddle – I’m pretty sure he’s a teddy bear underneath, though a dead one.

Overall, this is a great fantasy book that is sure to be loved by young readers everywhere.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Readers who liked this, or enjoy books like it should read Lady Friday (The Keys to the Kingdom) by Garth Nix or The Immortals (Edge Chronicles) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. You might like to look at Crossing Over by Anna Kendall although it is not as good a book as Wintercraft.

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Buy Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw at


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