Winter by Marissa Meyer

April 26, 2020

“What did you bring me today? Delusional mutterings with a side of crazy?”

-- About the Book --
Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She's said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana...

When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin.

But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter claim their happily ever afters by defeating Levana once and for all?

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-- My Two Cents --
I didn't go into this book with any kind of expectations. I realized that Levana had to be dethroned somehow right? What I think I enjoyed most about this series (and this book in particular) is how the author incorporated Murphy's Law. Seriously, if something could go wrong, it more than likely would because there was just too much hope and belief and trust to go around. It couldn't be perfect and it wasn't. While we knew that Cinder was the rightful ruler of the Lunar world, getting her to the throne wouldn't be easy. But the journey was a whole lot of fun! And what can beat hanging out with some of my favorite people again?

🌙 Cinder was trying to rally people to fight with her, to allow themselves the chance for freedom under her rule. Although most people saw the wisdom in her words and the ferocity of her bravery in her actions, you didn't really think Levana was just going to sit back and take it, did you? Cinder had to quickly realize that the sacrifice of the few was perhaps the best thing for the many. She invoked a rebellion, was captured, escaped, and persuaded people to risk their lives. She accomplished quite a lot for a simple sixteen year old cyborg mechanic. Where did her soldier-like skills come from? Did Wolf really train her so efficiently???

“She’s our lost princess. And she’s coming home.”

🌙 Kai was trapped in the Lunar palace, at the mercy of Levana and her whims. I honestly thought this part of the story was hilarious. Here was the emperor, used to a certain way of life, and his very authority is meaningless. How do you function around people who can manipulate what you see, think or do? Levana had him right where she wanted him and becoming her husband was the least of his worries. I liked that through it all, despite how little he was able to do, he was loyal to Cinder and their friends and helped in his own little rebellious ways.

“Oh, I fully intend to form an alliance with Luna.” Kai glanced at the cyborg foot again. “I just intend to put a different queen on the throne first.”

🌙 Scarlet was still a prisoner of Levana, kept in a menagerie, her only companions a white wolf and princess Winter. She was filthy, malnourished, and desperate for news on her friends. An unlikely ally aids in her escape and she finally has her chance to once again be part of the revolution. Her story with Wolf was beautifully painful and beautifully beautiful and because I love him so much, I can't help but have affection for her too.

“You're the only one Ze'ev Kelsey. You'll always be the only one.”

🌙 Wolf was just as delicious and heartbreaking as always. I can't get enough of this character, even when he's made to be pitiful. He was still devoted to Scarlet and was ready to let himself loose to rescue her. Unfortunately, Levana had plans for her former alpha and for a lot of this book, his destiny was left to be determined. But it didn't even matter how much or how little he featured because he was still a star (frankly one of the few characters I actually loved) and I knew that he was always going to be the incredible Wolf I fell for.

“Now, when he kissed her or put his arms around her, Scarlet felt like he was staking a claim. Which normally would have sent her on a tirade about relationship independence, except she felt like she’d claimed him a long time ago. The moment she’d expected him to choose her over his pack, the moment she’d dragged him aboard that ship and taken him away from everything he’d ever known, she’d made the decision for them both. He was hers now, just like she was his.

🌙 Cress was on the verge of driving me absolutely insane with her timidity and right when I was about ready to give up on her, she grew a backbone. I was freaking thrilled! This meek and mild and yet fierce character was a technological genius who could hack and disable to her heart's content. I loved how she collapsed systems and completely baffled the Lunars. I was sitting in my seat cheering her on and she exceeded my expectations of her heroism! To top it all off, her endlessly fruitless infatuation wasn't as hopeless as she believed and I couldn't have been happier for her. Finally Thorne!!

Cress had built a thousand fantasies around their rooftop kiss, but this kiss was something new. Where before, the kiss had been gentle and protective, now there was something passionate. Determined.

🌙 Thorne was as incorrigible as ever! This dude was hilarious and aside from Iko, I think all the zingers came from him. Even in the midst of danger, on the brink of death, he brought humor with him. It made some of the darker scenes, some of the most intense drama and depravity, not as scary. Still serious, but with a touch of levity. It was mad appreciated. The fact that this book allowed me to see how much he's grown, even though most of his irresistible personality remained intact, only made me love this guy more. I'm telling you, between him and Wolf, I'm not sure who I love more (I'm joking, it's Wolf). I'm just glad that he finally opened his mouth and his heart to Cress.

“You deserve better than some thief who’s going to end up in jail again. Everyone knows it. Even I know it. But you seem determined to believe I’m actually a decent guy who’s halfway worthy of you. So, what scares me most”—he twisted a lock of her hair between his fingers—“is that someday even you will realize that you can do better.”

🌙 Jacin was as protective and as determined to serve his princess as always. Did you know that he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up? So much of his life had to be pushed down or away, including his family, in order for him to keep his sanity. All while he had to bolster the sanity of the only girl he's ever loved. Jacin seemed to have the world on his shoulders and he carried it with such grace that sometimes you forgot about his overwhelming burdens. However, I loved how intensely he loved Winter.

“You’re my princess, right? You were always going to be my princess, no matter what you were born, no matter who your dad married.”

🌙 Winter was the stepdaughter of Queen Levana. She wasn't loved within the palace, however, all Lunars seemed to love her. She was the most beautiful woman on the planet and while she knew it, she kinda acted like she didn't know it. She kinda wanted Jacin to lavish her with unnecessary compliments. It was silly, but kinda cute. Kinda. Because she refused to use her Lunar gift, she was slowly (rather quickly) losing her mind. The only person who helped her keep her thoughts on track was Jacin, but as her personal guard, he had to keep a certain distance. Not that that stopped her. He was her best friend and the love of her life and neither politics or proper decorum were going to keep them apart. I loved her determination and how, even though she was absolutely bonkers for the most part, she was fiercely loyal and absurdly brave. I was impressed with her gumption and I was kinda hoping for a better ending for her.

“I have lived in fear of her my entire life," she continued. "If this is the only chance I'm given to stand against her, then I have to take it. I don't want to hide. I don't want to be afraid. And I don't want to be separated from you, ever again.”

Speaking of the ending, it was my only real problem with this story. I liked seeing what was happening to everyone immediately after everything, but I wanted more. So much more. After reading thousands of pages about these people and their quest to liberate Lunars from Levana, I thought the ending would be a lot more epic than it was. It fell so flat for me. All this build up, all this angst and tension and aggravation, getting me to fall in love with people, and this is what I get in the end? I'm a bit bummed. I was expecting more and I'm disappointed. Otherwise, everything else was great and I'd recommend this series to anyone who loves some clean, fun, adventurous young adult reading.

Other books in the series:

-- Excerpt --


Winter’s toes had become ice cubes. They were as cold as space. As cold as the dark side of Luna. As cold as—

“… security feeds captured him entering the AR-Central med-clinic’s sublevels at 23:00 U.T.C.…”

Thaumaturge Aimery Park spoke with a serene, measured cadence, like a ballad. It was easy to lose track of what he was saying, easy to let all the words blur and conjoin. Winter curled her toes inside her thin-soled shoes, afraid that if they got any colder before this trial was over, they would snap off.

“… was attempting to interfere with one of the shells currently stored…”

Snap off. One by one.

“… records indicate the shell child is the accused’s son, taken on 29 July of last year. He is now fifteen months old.”

Winter hid her hands in the folds of her gown. They were shaking again. She was always shaking these days. She squeezed her fingers to hold them still and pressed the bottoms of her feet into the hard floor. She struggled to bring the throne room into focus before it dissolved.

The throne room, in the central tower of the palace, had the most striking view in the city. From her seat, Winter could see Artemisia Lake mirroring the white palace and the city reaching for the edge of the enormous clear dome that sheltered them from the outside elements—or lack thereof. The throne room itself extended past the walls of the tower, so that when one passed beyond the edge of the mosaic floor, they found themselves on a ledge of clear glass. Like standing on air, about to plummet into the depths of the crater lake.

To Winter’s left she could make out the edges of her stepmother’s fingernails as they dug into the arm of her throne, an imposing seat carved from white stone. Normally her stepmother was calm during these proceedings and would listen to the trials without a hint of emotion. Winter was used to seeing Levana’s fingertips stroking the polished stone, not throttling it. But tension was high since Levana and her entourage had returned from Earth, and her stepmother had flown into even more rages than usual these past months.

Ever since that runaway Lunar—that cyborg—had escaped from her Earthen prison.

Ever since war had begun between Earth and Luna.

Ever since the queen’s betrothed had been kidnapped, and Levana’s chance to be crowned empress had been stolen from her.

The blue planet hung above the horizon, cut clean in half. Luna was a little more than halfway through the long night, and the city of Artemisia glowed with pale blue lampposts and glowing crystal windows, their reflections dancing across the lake’s surface.

Winter missed the sun and its warmth. Their artificial days were never the same.

“How did he know about the shells?” Queen Levana asked. “Why did he not believe his son to have been killed at birth?”

Seated around the room in four tiered rows were the families. The queen’s court. The nobles of Luna, granted favor with Her Majesty for their generations of loyalty, their extraordinary talents with the Lunar gift, or pure luck at having been born a citizen of the great city of Artemisia.

Then there was the man on his knees beside Thaumaturge Park. He had not been born lucky.

His hands were together, pleading. Winter wished she could tell him it wouldn’t matter. All his begging would be for nothing. She thought there would be comfort in knowing there was nothing you could do to avoid death. Those who came before the queen having already accepted their fate seemed to have an easier time of it.

She looked down at her own hands, still clawed around her gauzy white skirt. Her fingers had been bitten with frost. It was sort of pretty. Glistening and shimmering and cold, so very cold …

“Your queen asked you a question,” said Aimery.

Winter flinched, as if he’d been yelling at her.

Focus. She must try to focus.

She lifted her head and inhaled.

Aimery was wearing white now, having replaced Sybil Mira as the queen’s head thaumaturge. The gold embroidery on his coat shimmered as he circled the captive.

“I am sorry, Your Majesty,” the man said. “My family and I have served you for generations. I’m a janitor at that med-clinic and I’d heard rumors … It was none of my business, so I never cared, I never listened. But … when my son was born a shell…” He whimpered. “He is my son.”

“Did you not think,” said Levana, her voice loud and crisp, “there might be a reason your queen has chosen to keep your son and all the other ungifted Lunars separate from our citizens? That we may have a purpose that serves the good of all our people by containing them as we have?”

The man gulped hard enough that Winter could see his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I know, My Queen. I know you use their blood for … experimentation. But … but you have so many, and he’s only a baby, and…”

“Not only is his blood valuable to the success of our political alliances, the likes of which I cannot expect a janitor from the outer sectors to understand, but he is also a shell, and his kind have proven themselves to be dangerous and untrustworthy, as you will recall from the assassinations of King Marrok and Queen Jannali eighteen years ago. Yet you would subject our society to this threat?”

The man’s eyes were wild with fear. “Threat, My Queen? He is a baby.” He paused. He did not look outright rebellious, but his lack of remorse would be sending Levana into a fury soon enough. “And the others in those tanks … so many of them, children. Innocent children.”

The room chilled.

He knew too much. The shell infanticide had been in place since the rule of Levana’s sister, Queen Channary, after a shell sneaked into the palace and killed their parents. No one would be pleased to know their babies had not been killed at all, but instead locked away and used as tiny blood-platelet-manufacturing plants.

Winter blinked, imagining her own body as a blood-platelet-manufacturing plant.

Her gaze dropped again. The ice had extended to her wrists now.

That would not be beneficial for the platelet conveyor belts.

“Does the accused have a family?” asked the queen.

Aimery bobbed his head. “Records indicate a daughter, age nine. He also has two sisters and a nephew. All live in Sector GM-12.”

“No wife?”

“Dead five months past of regolith poisoning.”

The prisoner watched the queen, desperation pooling around his knees.

The court began to stir, their vibrant clothes fluttering. This trial had gone on too long. They were growing bored.

Levana leaned against the back of her throne. “You are hereby found guilty of trespassing and attempted theft against the crown. This crime is punishable by immediate death.”

The man shuddered, but his face remained pleading. It always took them a few seconds to comprehend such a sentence.

“Your family members will each receive a dozen public lashings as a reminder to your sector that I do not tolerate my decisions being questioned.”

The man’s jaw slackened.

“Your daughter will be given as a gift to one of the court’s families. There, she will be taught the obedience and humility one can assume she has not learned beneath your tutelage.”

“No, please. Let her live with her aunts. She hasn’t done anything!”

“Aimery, you may proceed.”


“Your queen has spoken,” said Thaumaturge Aimery. “Her word is final.”

Aimery drew an obsidian knife from one of his bell-shaped sleeves and held the handle toward the prisoner, whose eyes had gone wide with hysteria.

The room grew colder. Winter’s breath crystallized in the air. She squeezed her arms tight against her body.

The prisoner took the knife handle. His hand was steady. The rest of him was trembling.

“Please. My little girl—I’m all she has. Please. My Queen. Your Majesty!”

He raised the blade to his throat.

This was when Winter looked away. When she always looked away. She watched her own fingers burrow into her dress, her fingernails scraping at the fabric until she could feel the sting on her thighs. She watched the ice climb over her wrists, toward her elbows. Where the ice touched, her flesh went numb.

She imagined lashing out at the queen with those ice-solid fists. She imagined her hands shattering into a thousand icicle shards.

It was at her shoulders now. Her neck.

Even over the popping and cracking of the ice, she heard the cut of flesh. The burble of blood and a muffled gag. The hard slump of the body.

The cold had stolen into her chest. She squeezed her eyes shut, reminding herself to be calm, to breathe. She could hear Jacin’s steady voice in her head, his hands gripping her shoulders. It isn’t real, Princess. It’s only an illusion.

Usually they helped, these memories of him coaxing her through the panic. But this time it seemed to prompt the ice on. Encompassing her rib cage. Gnawing into her stomach. Hardening over her heart.

She was freezing from the inside out.

Listen to my voice.

Jacin wasn’t there.

Stay with me.

Jacin was gone.

It’s all in your head.

Copyright © 2015 by Rampion Books

-- About Marissa Meyer --
I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.

Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER was my first completed novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around, too.

I married my husband in 2011, two months before the release of Cinder, and we adopted our two beautiful twin daughters, Sloane and Delaney, in 2015. Reading lots and lots of bedtime stories is most definitely a new favorite pastime.

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