• The Sisters of the Winter Wood

  • By: Rena Rossner
  • Narrated by: Ana Clements
  • Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner's debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami's babka and the low rumble of their Tati's prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell - despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods. 

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true...and could save them all.

"Mixes fairy tale, poetry, history, and heart to create an enchanting and mesmerizing tale of sisterly love. I adored this book!" (Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of The Queens of Renthia series)

©2018 Rena Rossner (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"This dark fairy tale about sisterly love and Jewish strength and courage, set against the backdrop of a deep and deadly winter forest, will haunt me for a long time. A powerful, emotional debut." (Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns)

"Rossner's debut weaves a richly detailed story of Jewish identity and sisterhood... emotionally charged, full of sharp historical detail and well-deployed Yiddish phrases... Ambitious and surprising." (Kirkus)

"Intricately crafted, gorgeously rendered...full of heart, history, and enchantment." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What listeners say about The Sisters of the Winter Wood

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Inventive poetic tale but slightly repetitive

Perhaps something was lost in the Audible, though the narrator was quite good. I could tell there was poetic narration, but I think the beauty of the structure was lost in Audible. Again, the narrator was wonderful and did a great job working with the repetition, narrative beats, and different voices. But without looking at the construction of the prose, the triple word repetition became predictable and annoying. Nothing with the narrator, again, because she read each triple repeat with different inflection each time. But when hearing it over and over, it got old fast.

Overall, the story was well crafted. The characters were very thoughtfully explored. There was a strong message about how hate is cultivated in a community, which definitely rings clear for today's culture as well. Its scary, sad, and poignantly done.

Rossner's author's note was very compelling and brought a lot of heart into her narration. I appreciated the research and cultural richness in the tale. The snippets of Jewish heritage and language were lovely additions to the prose.

Overall, it was a good story and well narrated. I would have appreciated the prose more if I'd read the book in hand. In Audible, the repetition feels less poetic because of the amount of repeated words (sometimes three or four times in a chapter alone).

5 people found this helpful

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The British was a bit much

The plot and characters were weak, but I think part of that was due to the narration. The British accent was incredibly out of place for this tale happening in Moldova/Ukraine and was distracting. The acting was not credible, and Leya’s character in the voice of the narrator was incredibly annoying. I had to make myself finish this audiobook. It was especially disappointing after the thrill of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver, and Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy.

3 people found this helpful

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A Magical Retelling of a Bloody Time in Recent history

A little slow, but beautiful! It mixes classic folklore, actual stories, and historical events in a really unique masterful way.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved the narrator

I liked this book a lot... but there were also a bunch of things that kind of frustrated me. I liked the way she wove together magic with history. I found both of the main characters annoying and confusing at times. Ana Clements infused the characters with life though, and she was amazing.

2 people found this helpful

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Coming of age parable with anti-semitism

Overly long, repetitive coming of age parable set in para-pogrom eastern Europe. struggled mightily to finish, hoping the end would be worth it.

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Incredible Story Incredibly Read

I cannot express how much I loved this book. I know that I will read (listen) to it many times!

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Captivating Jewish historical fiction

I really enjoyed this book. The story was captivating, and fantasy and mythology were nicely entertwined with history. I enjoyed the narrators British accent and she did a good job with the Yiddish and Hebrew. I happen to know that one of the main character's story was written in poetry form, which one would not necessarily know by hearing the audio and not reading the book. It was helpful to know and understand the character and dialog. It nice to have a book like this that is informative about Jewish history and culture and also interesting to read.

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slow and anticlimactic

Exact what the title says. Slow, repetitive, anticlimactic. Narrator was the only person that saved it.

1 person found this helpful