• NZ Booklovers

Wynter's Thief by Sherryl Jordan

Fox is a fringe dweller, with a T branded on his cheek that marks him as a theft. He lives on his wits and moves from village to village. One day he spots a commotion and Wynter, chained by her father, is working as a water diviner. She finds water for a drought-strapped village. But the villagers turn on her and want her burned as a witch.

Fox rescues her and together they flee, to find a place they can live and settle and resolve unanswered questions about their past. But Wynter is being pursued and Fox is a thief. No-one will accept them.

Author Sherryl Jordan is at her usual stellar self with Wynter's Thief. Jordan is a master at telling stories in the ancient world, and this is no different.

However, the book was a bit of a slow burner to start with. It didn't immediately grip me the way Jordan's past stories, like Winter of Fire or The Raging Quiet did. But it grew on me page by page thanks to Jordan's descriptive writing.

The book alternates in narrative - one chapter told from Fox's viewpoint before switching to Wynter. Handy symbols in the corner representing each character helps you remember who's viewpoint you're reading if you forget. But each voice is distinct and unique. While there's potential for an overlap with the story, it's not too repetitive and Jordan only recaps events if the other's voice adds to the meaning.

Wynter and Fox's society and world is described in rich and vivid detail. Both the characters and the settings feel authentic. Both main characters have flaws, triumphs and secrets. While they may appear to live vastly different lives, they aren't that different after all.

Jordan weaves many themes into the story. People's connections to the land and seasons, and the superstitions and beliefs that govern their daily lives add to the tension and plot.

Jordan's stories are often inspired by ordinary people stuck between superstition and rationality. She writes of people who are different, who struggle, and who become the people they were born to be. The impact of Fox's branding is superbly handled and reflects this too, as does Wynter's trial.

Wynter's Thief is classic Sherryl Jordan -- vivid, compelling and brimming with both wisdom and compassion.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

OneTree House, RRP $24.99