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Through the White Wood


Through the White Wood

THROUGH THE WHITE WOOD is by far the best book that I have read this year. It is set in Kievan Rus’, modern day Ukraine, where my family is from --- I personally like the tribute to the folklore and traditions of my culture. If someone were to ask you what the book is about, you could simply reply, “It’s Elsa from Frozen being sent to the beast from Beauty and the Beast instead of Belle, but it soon turns to Mulan as foreign invaders come in.” Anyway, on with the review.


We are introduced to Katya, who has ice powers and is being sent to the evil, malicious, vampire, parent killing, dark army building Prince Alexander of Kievan Rus’. This is because she lost control of her powers and accidentally killed some people in self-defense, and it went really, really badly. She hears all these rumors about the prince and is terrified for her fate. Accompanied by her faithful eagle, Elation, the Disney princess-esque Katya is sent to his palace. She meets others like her that serve the prince, like Ivan and Kharan, who became her close friends and allies.


She also meets the prince, Sasha, who is nothing like what she has been told. Sasha has powers too, fire powers, but he just hasn’t achieved the access to use them yet. He tells Katya that their country’s neighbors plan on invading Kievan Rus’ with their own magic wielding army that is currently terrorizing and burning villages, and hopes that together they can stop them. So begins a journey that goes from the very heart of Kievan Rus’ to the ancient Byzantine Empire where love, friendship, magical creatures and newfound information is found along the way.


I honestly liked the book. I began reading it and it felt so familiar, like home. There were so many things in this story that I only know about from stories read to me by my family; like the Baba Yaga, an evil witch that eats humans and lives in a house on chicken legs, or the rusalki, mermaids that live in water and drown you. These are stories that I and many others grew up with and it’s nice to hear about them again in a novel for teens.


The characters were alright but most of them did not really seem to go through a big change. The main character obviously did, but others not so much. It was obvious who the traitor was going to be because of their animosity towards the main character. I am also concerned that the main character forgets a lot. She asks Sasha why the Byzantine Empire won’t help him and he repeats a couple times --- three --- that they think he killed his parents. They seem to have conversations like this over and over again. Katya probably wanted some clarification but the same words are used each time. It’s phrased the same way. It’s almost like they have nothing to talk about to each other. But other than that all is good.

If you want something to read while waiting for Frozen 2 to come out, this book is similar with the whole ice powers concept. If you like alternate historical fiction with some fantasy, this book has got it. If you like fairytales and folklore of different nations, I think you’d be interested in a book with some nice Eastern European folklore. Have a good read.

Reviewed by Anna C. on April 10, 2019

Through the White Wood
by Jessica Leake