Kiran Millwood Hargrave is without a doubt one of my favourite children’s authors. I absolutely loved her previous books, Waterstones Children’s Book Winner 2017 The Girl of Ink and Stars and The Island at the End of Everything, and The Way Past Winter is equally as brilliant and beautiful.
Set in a Scandinavian wood during an everlasting winter, The Way Past Winter tells the magically tale of Mila and her sisters, Sanna and Pipa, who set off on an adventure in search of their brother Oskar, who Mila believes has been taken by ‘the Bear’. Rooted in a world of myth, magic and folklore, this frosty fairytale is a captivating story of sisterhood, bravery and new beginnings.
Kiran’s lyrical and atmospheric writing transported me to the frozen north and took me on a wintry adventure I’ll not be forgetting anytime soon. Not to mention what an absolute winner of a book this is on the ‘rebel girls’ front! I loved each sister independently and together - sensitive but fiercely courageous Mila, stubborn and protective Sanna and mischievously yet kind Pipa.
But what I loved most about Mila’s character, is unlike Kiran’s other protagonists who want to find adventure in the big, wide world, Mila is a homebody. Her one main goal is to return to her home with her family and this for me made Mila’s character that so much more relatable and realistic.
My only wish would be for there to be more! I wanted to know more about mages and about Rune. How did Rune come to learn his magic? What came of his home and this goat? Were there other mages? I wanted to stay with the family, to find out their futures and see their characters grow and evolve even more! Where did Sanna’s travel too? Where did Mila’s new power take her next? I could’ve been lost in this setting and story for a lifetime but for the middle grade readership, the length of the book is perfect. Thrillingly fast-paced yet seamlessly developed. Not to mention the gorgeous hardback, cloth bound edition with illustrations by Helen Crawford-Wight makes this a timeless classic.
Read this come snow or sun!