Review of Winter Dream by Chantal Gadoury

This Christmas Eve… no creature was stirring…
Except, maybe, a mouse. 
At long last, can true love break the Nutcracker’s curse? 
For Clara Stahlbaum, this Christmas means the end of her youth. A daughter of the aristocracy, Clara is expected to give up her dreams of adventures and the extraordinary for more normal days as the wife of a cruel Viscount. 
But when magical Uncle Drosselmeyer returns with his wondrous, dancing contraptions, and one…special gift for Clara, she is beckoned to the land of Winter Dream, where she is thrust into the greatest adventure of her wildest dreams. But will she be able to break the Nutcracker’s curse? 
Uncle Drosselmeyer’s apprentice, Anton, is handsome as he is mysterious. But what is it about him Clara finds so alluring? 

There is a richness in the language Gadoury uses in this novel. The book is tactile. Every moment is described in tastes and smells and the touch of the world. Clara is a likeable girl from the start. She is a rebel against tradition and a believer in adventure making her a fun protagonist. Though she is most certainly a damsel in distress – fragile, naive, sheltered, but brave upon instinct and holds to her kindness during tragedy. Much of the mystery of the story is revealed by protagonist speculation rather than dialogue or by a turn of the plot. Which means that the reader is left to trust the author and be guided rather than to discover. Thoughts and emotions are often expressed within the narrative just before being expressed through dialogue, making for some redundancy. Many of the scenes can almost be imagined in the form of the classic ballet, which Gadoury quotes as a big inspiration to her in the gratitude at the beginning of her novel. This saves a great deal of the story. Simply by knowing that it is a retelling, much of the convenience of the plot and most of the parallels can be excused by that familiarity. Other ideas still are said over and over again, and sometimes the chronology is off kilter. For example, Clara and a friend are gathering flowers for a wreath. Clara’s internal monologue mentions the purpose of the wreath, but then just a page or two after this thought, her friend says that should like to make a wreath. Clara’s internal monologue then mentions that a wreath would be nice for this particular purpose. This little fluke and the plot hole in Chapter 29 (perhaps an editorial miss) were a bit disengaging. There are also some spots of word confusion and grammar mistakes that tend to pull the reader from the book for a moment to properly interpret what is written. Gadoury’s characters are, however, enchanting. Falling in love with Marzipan, Clara, and the Nutcracker is extremely easy. Entrancing as it was, the story was not entirely solid, even so, it did keep the reader positively immersed within the world. The characters all go through noticeable growth, and Gadoury again embellishes this novel with a very specific charm. The book was enjoyable, so I would give it three stars.

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