Catherine Fisher, Author . HarperCollins/ Greenwillow $17.99 (507p) ISBN 978-0-06-072474-0

Originally published in Great Britain as three separate volumes , Fisher's (The Oracle Betrayed ) ice-coated saga tells of an evil sorceress and her lust for power. The witch Gudrun, the Snow-walker of the title, has come to the Jarlshold from the far north and used her magic to overthrow the Wulfings, the rightful rulers, and install her husband as "Lord Jarl," as a puppet leader. Most of the subjects live in dire fear of the new regime, but young Jessa, from the Wulfing lineage, whose father was killed in the coup, speaks her mind in front of the Jarl. She and her cousin, Thorkil, are now "old enough to be dangerous," so the ruler exiles them to a faraway outpost where Gudrun has imprisoned her son, Kari, since his youth. "The child is a monster," say the rumors. But Jessa learns otherwise: "[Kari] has her powers. [That's] the reason she locked her son away and never even let him be seen." After Gudrun kills the Jarl, the four know they have little time before she shows up there. Over the course of the three books, Kari confronts Gudrun, who flees the Jarlshold; the witch sends monsters to seek revenge; and the books build to the inevitable mother vs. son showdown. Because of the episodic nature of the tales, originally intended to stand alone, the bigger story arcs do not fully develop and ancillary characters remain thin. Still, the author creates an atmospheric setting, and fans of Norse myths and magic may be swept up in this frosty tale. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 507 pages - 978-0-06-072475-7
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