Brought to you by OBS reviewer Adelynne
Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.
Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals.
Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest.
As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.
Aleissa is your typical teenage girl until she discovers that she has magical abilities. I’ll admit, this concept is extremely overused, but Maggi manages to use it in such a way that I didn’t feel irritated or annoyed at all when I read it. Although there were a few flaws in this book that really irritated me, it wasn’t enough for me to round it down to three stars.
Maggi’s writing can be simplistic at times, but she is extremely skilled in using imagery and descriptions when Aleissa is a falcon- it’s breathtaking. She’s also very good at capturing the emotions and thoughts of a teenage girl- Aleissa’s actions were very representative of that teenage rebellion stage everyone goes through. In addition, the plot is light and enjoyable, with no dark issues or themes. Winter Falls is more of a character oriented book rather than an action oriented one.
Unfortunately, most of the characters besides Aleissa are very static and 2-D. Aleissa is a bit shallow at first, but she eventually grows and develops into her ability. However, even as she matures, she can still be a bit too obsessed over romance rather than seeing the big picture. Her love interest, Jonah, is a pretty typical guy with secrets and a mysterious family. His character always seemed a bit flat and was not developed very well. In fact, the only dynamic character in this novel is Aleissa. What I did like, was how Aleissa’s best friend Jenny is very supportive of Aleissa and is always there to reassure her when she thinks her life is going awry. Aleissa’s relationship with her mother is very believable, with a bit of conflict thrown here and there. Although her mother is the typical “parent-keeping-dangerous-secrets-from-child” parent, her relationship with her daughter is sweet, supportive, and involved. I’d have to say my favorite character is Bree- even though her character is a bit overused, it is refreshing to have a snarky character full of hate for everyone.
I enjoyed the plot overall, but it is very predictable and I was able to easily guess the “mysterious” identity of the Panther that Aleissa meets. The world-building in this novel is not very good either. It needs more elaboration on the Benandanti and the Malandanti, and how each of them came to be. It’s complicated relationship between the two groups, and is one full of constant enmity. I wanted more information on this, and how the people involved can contact others around the world, ect. The beginning is very slow and boring, but it quickly picks up the pace after Aleissa gains her powers and really compensates for the rather mediocre beginning at the end- which is amazing and is keeping my breath held for the next book.
The only thing I really hated was the romance. I cringed at nearly every scene- Jonah and Aleissa’s “love” is very superficial, and it’s one of those cliche insta-love things. The two barely even know each other, and they start dating after a few short interactions. Definitely not enough for love. It’s nice how the two are supportive of each other, especially Aleissa, but their romance is just too spontaneous to feel realistic and it really needs more depth to it. I also really did not like how Aleissa immediately becomes obsessed with Jonah from the first moment she meets him. She practiacally stalks him, constantly asking and thinking about him like he’s the only thing that exists in her life- and this is around the time where they haven’t even officially become acquaintances. The novel is way too focused on the romance in a few parts, but it does redeem itself by concentrating on other issues.
Overall, Winter Falls is a very quick, fun read that should appeal to readers that love magic and shapeshifting abilities. I did enjoy this book a lot despite some of its issues and Winter Falls is a great debut novel.