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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifNovelbooks, Inc. (Ebook), ISBN 1-931-696-93-4

The dark streets of Dicken's London hits fantasy head-on in Winter's Orphans. Even the "cover girl" looks more than a little like a grown-up, female version of Oliver Twist.

Wilhelmina Cole dresses and acts like a boy to avoid the unwanted attentions of men, particularly her immediate bosses. Her position as an indentured worker in the water-powered factory mills of the land of Niurne gives her about the same rights as a slave.

Book: Elaine Cordivae, winter's orphansMina, as her friends call her, doesn't know of her fey heritage. Unaware that her father was Unseelie fey, she doesn't know she harbors strong magic -- in fact, the strongest of magics enjoyed by the half-breeds (or "feylings") in the city of Dere. This magic stays hidden until an accident at the mill causes Mina to use her powers involuntarily.

Duncan RiDahn leads the Unseelie feylings of Dere. Paralyzed from the waist down for over thirty years, Duncan teaches other feylings to hide themselves from the ruling Seelie Court. Fortunately for Mina, along with the sinister Seelie Court, Duncan also feels Mina's use of magic and, accompanied by his student Bryan, rushes to her aid.

And the romance begins.

Duncan's attempts to teach Mina how to use her magic and his past failures clash time and again with Mina and her friend Abby's struggle to survive in an unfair world. Despite this, the attraction between Duncan and Mina grows.

Winter's Orphans features a strong fantastical setting. Corvidae builds a realistic world where the two lovers meet, and where they must face the final enemy -- the Seelie Court -- together. The only glitch in the story comes towards the end. Winter's Orphans holds itself together extremely well as a fantasy story with a romantic element until the last twelve or so chapters. At this point it falls into a formula romance style. Although this doesn't completely ruin the story, it does make this reader feel somewhat cheated. The first bit read so well, the let-down hit doubly hard.

Still, Winter's Orphans remains a pretty good read and, for the most part, should intrigue readers of fantasy romance.

Stephen Smith

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