Book Reviews

Review: “Winter’s Shadow,” M.J. Hearle

June 25, 2011

I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Winter’s Shadow,” M.J. HearleWinter's Shadowby M.J. Hearle
Series: Winter Saga #1
Published by Pan Macmillan on June, 2011
Genres: Immortality
Pages: 432
Source: Pan Macmillan Australia

Blake Duchamp. He’s all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim’s Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn’t all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself.

Winter’s Shadow felt too much like other YA titles on the market for me to really enjoy it. While I’m proud that more Aussie authors are taking their place on the YA shelves, the first half of this debut novel from M.J. Hearle felt lacking and a little useless.

I really felt that M.J. Hearle tried to write something that was ‘out of the norm’ for YA readers, but despite his original ideas for the mythology and creatures that feature in Winter’s Shadow, the book followed the same forumala I’ve seen time and time again…

Girl meets mysterious guy and even though she’s nothing stunning and he’s model-worthy, he seems to take an interest in her! Cue the annoying best friend and cut to near death situation featuring our heroine. Mysterious Guy saves her – he just had to despite his senses telling him it was a bad idea – and Heroine and Mysterious Guy start hanging out. Turns out Heroine has something that makes her different from everyone else in Mysterious Guy’s eyes – she’s got powers, too, and she didn’t even know it. Oh, and her parents are dead.

I fall into these traps way too easily, it seems. The first half of the book, in hindsight, felt pretty useless. The book is over 400 pages long and I felt a good number of those pages could have been sized down. Most of the real ‘action’ only happened in the second half. This would be alright if there seemed to be some strong character building, but even though I knew the basic facts about Winter and her history, I felt like I didn’t ‘know’ her or even want to know her. She seemed a little too generic for me. I wasn’t fond of Blake, either. I felt this was a huge hole in the story – that I didn’t like either of these characters – and I think that really changed my opinion of the book.

If you’ve been following my goodreads updates for this book, you’ll see that it’s taken over a week for me to read Winter’s Shadow. I just couldn’t muster up the patience to delve back into it after I finished a few chapters (On the topic of chapters, another thing that irked me was how frequently they changed.) I had figured out the mystery of the attic pretty early on in the story, as well as the twist with the identity of the Bane. Though there was really nothing to keep my interest in the story going, I kept chugging on in hopes that the ending would make it all worthwhile.

I’m really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy Winter’s Shadow, especially since I’ve heard such rave reviews about the book from fellow readers and even enjoyed reading M.J.’s own blog on writing, etc. and got myself amped for this ones release. It’s my understanding that there’s a second book coming out, but I don’t think I’ll pick it up.

Winter’s Shadow will have an audience who adores it, I have no doubt about that, but unfortunately I’m just not part of it. As I’ll say below, I recommend it to people who haven’t read this YA storyline over and over again over the past few years.

Recommended to: Readers who are delving into paranormal/supernatural YA for the first time and aren’t overly familiar with the predictable plots.

About M.J. Hearle

Addicted to stories from a young age, it was somewhat inevitable that M.J. Hearle turned to dealing them himself. While ostensibly a paranormal romance it does not contain any sparkly vampires or shirtless werewolves.


  • Reply Sas (Tea Mouse) July 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I’m sorry you didn’t like this one Brittany :( I liked your review though, it was very well written and you got your points out well. :)
    I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping that I enjo it (and that the hype hasn’t ruined it for me, as hype tends to do).

    It’s also nice to see the author commenting with a *respectful* comment! It must be hard to read negative reviews of your own book and still not be all AKFKJNVNIADVCLKDDN!?! about them. So it’s good to see that he can respond without being rude – it’s a credit to authors really. :)

  • Reply MJ Hearle June 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Brittany,
    Thanks for posting the review. Sorry the story didn’t work for you. You bring up some interesting criticisms of my book, some which I think are fair, others perhaps a little harsh. Still, I appreciate your perspective as a devoted fan of the genre. In regards to the sequel, Winter’s Light, I’d ask you to approach it with an open mind. It definitely takes the story away from the standard YA Paranormal Romance story conventions which you feel the first book suffers from. In any case, I look forward to reading your future reviews.

  • Reply Cialina June 27, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Aw, sorry to hear that you were disappointed by this one. I admit that I am also lured into reading formulaic YA and I always end up really disappointed by then. Haha, maybe we’ll learn our lesson one of these days…

  • Reply Spellboundbybooks Melissa June 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this one.. But just because I liked it doesn’t mean others will ;)

    Thanks for a great review!

  • Reply Michelle Auricht June 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I bought this to read..I wonder how I will feel once I read it…time will tell:D

    MIchelle A

  • Reply Dazzling Mage June 26, 2011 at 2:55 am

    That is a little annoying. >_< I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, and honestly, I don't blame you.

  • Reply Cass June 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    It’s a shame you didn’t like it. I can definitely see how you were able to draw comparisons to other paranormal books, but I found it fresh – but perhaps the fact that I don’t delve into this genre too much I can’t sense it that well. I know those cliches, but I felt as though they were dodged in this book. *shrugs shoulders*

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