It’s April Fool’s Day, so we decided to (okay, I decided) to go ahead and skip about a dozen books I had in the “To Be Reviewed” queue so I could review a book I first heard about (and received) last weekend, Janine K. Spendlove’s War of the Seasons: The Human (Book One of the series), a fantastic story set in a world where humans don’t really exist.
Our heroine Story is a young teenage girl who is dealing with the loss of her entire family. Her father and her younger twin siblings died in a car crash the previous winter, and her mother disappeared long before, leaving Story alone in the world. She has withdrawn from her friends and society as a whole, and only her best friend/ex-boyfriend Josh has remained loyally by her side. Story, though, wants to push everything away so that she can escape from the pain. One of the ways she does this is to go to an old cave out in the wilderness, where her father had taken her spelunking years before. An area filled with happy memories and not the ones which seem to be crushing her at every chance it gets.
Story ditches Josh as she slips through a narrow crevice that her father had warned her previously not to enter and she falls, disappearing into the darkness and lands… somewhere.
She awakens to find herself in a strange land where her father’s old Ka-bar knife he had while in the Marines is her only protection. She has unwittingly fallen into the magical land of Ailionora (note: yes, I cringed when I reached the names. I always cringe when fantasy names come out… that didn’t take anything away from the story, though).
Upon stumbling out of a partially buried cave she runs into a beautiful young man who is named Morrigann. He gives her a “look” before he, his harp and surrounding fairies disappear into the forest. Naturally Story is attracted to him (she’s a teenager with a huge hole in her soul…) but she is distracted as she hears a cry for help. She responds and (sort of ) saves a young elf man named Eirnan. However, they don’t exactly get along and soon Story is on her way (by herself) to Stoneybrook, a town where she might be able to find help and figure out just what is going on here.
Eirnin rejoins her after she has a strange dream about Morrigann (pretty boys have that effect of people, apparently) and Eirnin corrects her (she’d been heading in the wrong direction again, her compass doesn’t seem to be working). On the way, he fills Story in on where she is (he thinks she’s a bit deluded at this point because, really, a “human” girl?) She, of course, is convinced that either the elf is delusional or she hit her head harder than she anticipated.
A good portion of this book is dedicated to Story becoming convinced that she is in a magical land and no longer home, which makes sense in a way because she is an almost-typical girl who is dealing with grief. The author does a tremendous job of showing this, and even does a better job showing just how hard grief can hit you when you let your guard down. Story never truly grieves until much later in the novel, leaving her dangerous bottled with her emotions.
The world itself is big, though Spendlove doesn’t break Rule 3 (Thou Shalt Not Have Worlds Bigger Than Tolkien) with her map and lands. The characters are completely believable, and while the romance is a bit on the heavy side (I’m a guy with limited sensibilities, of course the romance is on the heavy side), it really fits with the story well. I enjoyed the portrayal of both Morrigann and Eirnan, though my favorite character is the spastic young Adair, who is so full of life and energy that she allows Story to forget some of the pain she’s dealing with.
This book is a worthy addition to anyone library, especially for anyone who is sick of reading Twilight and not having any viable options elsewhere in the Teen/YA romance section. I would highly recommend picking this one up.
–Reviewed by Jason