In a few short months, Emi’s mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.
Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.
On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.
*Review copy received in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
Red Winter is the story of Emi, who has been chosen to be the vessel for a goddess. She seems eager to embrace her fate, is looking forward to it even. But, an important truth about the union of the goddess’ spirit and her body has been hidden from her. When she learns what it is, she isn’t eager to embrace her fate anymore. Instead, she wants out, but she can’t because being a vessel is all she knows, is all she’s been prepared for, her entire life. And, with forces trying to kill her, it’s a race against death.
I like Emi’s character. She’s the portrait of a lady, always doing what is expected of her, never deviating. She has accepted her fate and doesn’t question it or what she has to give up because of her fate. But, as the date for her sacrifice nears, she starts questioning whether she is actually ready to give it all up and her doubt is fueled by Katsuo, the sohei who is assigned to protect her from harm. What I didn’t like was that her character didn’t have much of a development arc. She was always compassionate, always curious, right from the beginning to the end. And she didn’t really change her beliefs from the beginning of the story to the end of it. But, there’s two more books to come, so I’m holding out hope for her.
Then, there is Shiro, the kitsune who owes Emi a life debt. He’s mysterious and dangerous and has an agenda of his own. He tries to protect Emi when he can, but his selfish motives are clear throughout the book. I like that about him. He never pretends to be someone who he isn’t. He’s established as an untrustworthy character and he doesn’t shy away from it, in fact, he embraces it wholeheartedly. That’s amazing.
Then, there’s Katsuo. He’s Emi’s bodyguard but they have a sort of complicated history. It is alluded that he may have feelings for her and Emi sure had them in the past. So, their relationship is complicated to say the least. But, Katsuo cares about Emi a great deal. And he’s kind and compassionate and caring. He’s always helping Emi whenever she needs it without question. I really like his character.
All in all, this is a nice kickstart to the trilogy. The starting 100 pages were a little slow but then it picked up and became this intriguing mess of want and need and bargains for what you want. Everything comes with a price and I like how entangled all these bargains are because everyone wants something from someone else.
So, yes I would definitely recommend this to you if you’re into mythology and retelling and fantasy.
Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every single book.
Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.