cover image The Sisters of the Winter Wood

The Sisters of the Winter Wood

Rena Rossner. Redhook, $25 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-48325-4

Rossner’s intricately crafted, gorgeously rendered debut alternates perspectives between teenage sisters Liba and Laya Leib, who narrate in prose and verse, respectively. They are left to fend for themselves in the mysterious woods that border the town of Dubossary while their parents are away on urgent business. Before their parents leave, the sisters learn the family secret: their father can transform into a bear, a gift Liba will inherit, and their mother into a swan, as Laya will. The pair disagree on how to enjoy their newfound independence: where Laya longs for freedom, Liba craves stability, worrying constantly for her younger sister’s safety. People are going missing from the town, there are rumors of a bear in the woods, and anti-Semitic sentiment is on the rise. All of these strange occurrences coincide with the arrival of the Hovlins, a seductive band of fruit-peddling brothers whose otherworldly appeal Laya cannot resist. To save her sister and her people, Liba must learn to accept her bear-like nature. Drawing on true events, folklore, and Christina Rosetti’s classic The Goblin Market, Rossner’s fairy tale is creepy and moving by turn, full of heart, history, and enchantment. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US Literary. (Sept.)