So I was excited to read this new series for a couple of reasons: 1) the author is a Sydneysider! I do get very excited about new Australian YA writers. 2) Promotional materials promised no sparkly vampires or werewolves!
In both novels, a second narrative occurs in a few chapters throughout - in the first it's Blake's mother's story, and in the second it's a character 2000 years in the past who is linked to both central characters. There's a lot of thought that's been put into world-building. I really enjoyed these back stories, and I would love to have read more of them (so many opportunities for other books set in the same world!).
I think it's important to state that my preferences in YA paranormal romances seem to differ quite a bit from those of most readers who are fans of the genre. I am always more interested in the paranormal part than I am the romance part. The parts that involved travelling to a different reality - an incredibly creepy and alien one - were probably my favourite (how could they not be?), and there is a definite promise of the third book being more heavily involved in this other universe. Also, the incredibly ominous Skivers? I liked them, too.
Though I felt the beginning a little clunky, the story picks up and the ending of Winter's Shadow was fantastic. Winter's Light is my favourite of the series (so far!), mainly because the plotline is not centred around the burgeoning romance but rather Winter's growth as a character and her involvement in a larger war that is occurring. While I expected the twist in Winter's Shadow, in Winter's Light there was a twist that I did not see coming. The events of Winter's Light are on a much larger scale than the first book.
I think if you're a YA paranormal romance fan, this is well worth picking up, and I found the second book especially enjoyable - creepy and dark with an epic ending. I can promise no sparkly vampires, but there are some vampire-reminiscent creatures. There's a lot of familiarity about the series - the setting, romance and protagonist all fit very well within the genre - but it offers some interesting plot twists later on, and I've high expectations for the third book in the series. (More sinister paranormal beasties, I hope.)