The Way Past Winter

It had a fairy tale feel to it, something atmospheric in a sense, that made reading it not feel like a child’s tale, but more a cozy story you’d sit next to a fire while listening to it being told to you.


  • Want a folkloric, fairy tale feel
  • Like lush, woodsy books
  • Like sisterly bond stories

TitleThe Way Past Winter | Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave  Rating: 4/5

The perfect book for the coming winter, to settle in beside a fire, and savor like a warm cup of tea and honey.

Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter.

Spring has disappeared, leaving winter behind for five years. Mila and her siblings only remember being hungry, cold, and alone. Their mother died ages ago, and their father one day just up and left.

Oskar, the eldest, has taken on the role of caring for his sisters. But one day, a mysterious man, with gold cord wrapped around his ankles and horses and men following behind him appear from nowhere.

The man asks for the childrens’ names, but everyone knows a name has power and should not be freely given out. Still, this man susses out their names and with a mysterious flair, leaves.

But that same night, one of Oskar’s sisters sees him by the window, the man staring back in from the outside. The next morning, Oskar is gone, just like their father five years before.

The sisters go into town, where they meet the mage, who tells them they must go “up North,” where there is Spring, and save their brother.

This is all just tales, though, and the mage is a madman who likes to tell tall tales.

But one sister believes otherwise. And she leaves for North, where Spring lives, and winter is a distant memory.

The Way Past Winter is a wonderful read, perfect for a cozy winter’s night, and a warm fire to sit by. It is one of those stories that reads like a fairy tale and keeps you drinking each page.

It reminded me of another story I’ve read, something akin to the Snow Queen stealing young boys, but it’s more than that. There’s a surprising emotional depth and pain in the story, and the power of family above all else.

The only complaint I have was that at times, the story felt rushed, especially the second half.

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