#WritersReviews: Black Snow Falling

Black Snow Falling

written by L. J. MacWhirter

cover by Tim Byrne

published by Scotland Street Press

227 pages in hardback

 

philosophical Tudor fantasy with added time travel

 

Summary from Scottish Book Trust

The black sky empties itself. Shadows tumbling without end…

In 1592, a girl with spirit is a threat.

Ruth has secrets. An old book of heresy belonging to her long-absent father. A dream that haunts her. And love that she and Silas hide from the world.

When she is robbed of all she holds true, her friends from Crowbury slide into terrible danger. Hope is as faint as a moonbow. Dare Ruth trust the shadowy one who could destroy them all?

A reader’s perspective

I wish you could see the shimmer on the splendid cover by Tim Byrne. It makes a glimmering maze of thorns around Elizabethan calligraphy, snuffed candles and a single black snowflake. Some of the brambles have grasping fingers! A proper mix of dark and light for this story threaded through with despair and hope.

This is an elaborate story with an intricate plot suitable for a sophisticated YA reader: as it says at the start:

Time slips between 1543, 1592 and some unearthly place . . .

It is sinister, disturbing and gruesome at points – rightly so when considering the nature of evil. Despite the matching beauty of the cover and much of the prose, Black Snow Falling is not suitable for sensitive or easily disturbed readers.

It will suit those who’d enjoy seeing the dilemmas of a spirited Elizabethan adolescent become enmeshed with far greater issues which spread across dimensions. Though it’s bursting with generous amounts of imagination, it’s a short read with lots of incident. To be flippant, I might say a bit ‘Dr Who with ruffs’ but serious points are made amongst the adventure. Whilst there is a lot of darkness (think ornate dark oak panelling), there is most assuredly hope glowing like a lantern.

Orginal photo by Matheus Kohler on Unsplash, adapted by K. M. Lockwood

A Writer and Editor’s View

  • genre-defying – delighted that smaller, newer presses like Scotland Street are often so much braver than the mainstream publishers
  • creative mix of history, fantasy and even a smidge of steampunk
  • shows trust in the teen reader: two narrators, two time periods from the start
  • changes of point of view (which grow more complex over time) are signalled to keep the reader following the plot trail
  • the motives of one antagonist in particular are credible and develop the theme (no spoilers)
  • the promise of the tagline Hold on to your hopes and dreams is fulfilled

*******

Watch out for the ‘Interesting Times’ UK Bookshop Tour: L. J. Macwhirter with fellow YA debut writers, Rowena House (The Goose Road) and Tracey Mathias (Night of the Party) – should be quite lively!

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