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Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.

Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals.

Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest.

As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.

348 pages, Paperback

First published December 22, 2014

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About the author

Nicole Maggi

6 books248 followers
Nicole was born in the suburban farm country of upstate New York, and began writing at a very early age. Of course, her early works consisted mainly of poems about rainbows and unicorns, although one of them was good enough to win honorable mention in a national poetry contest! (Perhaps one of the judges was a ten-year-old girl.) Throughout high school, her creative writing was always nurtured and encouraged.

Nicole attended Emerson College as an acting major, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Post-college, she worked as an actress in New York City for over a decade, focusing mainly on Shakespeare and the classics.

Now living in Los Angeles, Nicole balances writing full-time with motherhood. WINTER FALLS, the first in her TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY (Medallion Press, 2014) is her debut novel. She has a stand-alone novel, HEARTLINES, coming out in February 2015 with SourceBooks Fire, as well as the second and third novels in the TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY in 2015 and 2016.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
Profile Image for Toby.
78 reviews8 followers
February 24, 2016
This book was outstanding! It's not very often a book comes along in the midst of a reading slump, and you just get to devour it! In truth, I had been extremely busy and had another (school) book right after I started this book, but rest assured that the moment I worked through those, I delved into this book at rapid speed!

I don't usually get into modern day fiction. I always wind up cringing at an adults attempts at modern teenage banter, thought process, jokes, while they're trying to add a magical dangerous element. (Notice: this is stated as in modern fantasy stories. Not contemporaries) But Nicole Maggi's beautiful story grabbed me by the shoulders, and taught me the beauty of this genre!

I felt myself in constant suspense as I read, making theories or noticing the smallest of details (so basically I acted like I do when I watch Gravity Falls) and I just found this story remarkable. This book spoke to my many different levels as a reader. Where as famous books like, say, Percy Jackson spoke to fans of Harry Potter and/or Greek Mythology, this spoke to so many other things. Yes, there was a bit of mythology like Percy Jackson, and magic, like Harry Potter, but there were so many more things playing major roles! In action scenes you could feel a strong heroine such as Katniss or Tris in Alessia, and during more romantic scenes I was reminded of Hazel Grace.

This book is a lovely, beautiful read! And I strongly suggest to anyone who wants to read a good story, take a trip to Twin Willows!
Profile Image for _sniper.force_.
259 reviews54 followers
February 5, 2020
He tossed his head, white fur glistening in the darlness Patience, young Padawan.
I almost fell out of the air. Heath!! Did you finally get a DVD player?
Better than that -- Blu-ray.

When I first started reading this book, I was very confused. A lot of things didn't make sense. (Maybe that was because I was in a reading slump.) As I progressed through the story, everything started to make sense. I was excited through the whole story. There are many books about people who can shapeshift into animals, but in this story, when you shapeshift, you leave your body behind. At first, I thought it was weird, but then I started to reason with myself and I made things work out.

The cover looks very cool. Alessia's "spirit animal" is a falcon. I don't know if it's just me, but when I look at the cover I see an owl before I can make out the falcon.
Profile Image for Viola.
192 reviews48 followers
July 5, 2015
The writing style...talk about boring. I mean, really? There's no real lead up to anything. Things are overly explained in a simplistic way and everything is just overall simplified. It's rather disappointing. The author could have gone is such a more appropriate direction. Where's the story build up? She kind of just jumps right into the characters transforming without any background story or plot line or anything. And let's just go with the obvious, shall we? Because it's definitely not going to work if there's a little mystery or unexpectedness involved.

And my goodness. I hope you're not expecting any sort of depth or to have to do any thinking while reading this book - because you won't. Every little thing is spelled out for you word for word. Every question you might have had or thought that mught have passed through your brain is there in black and white. There's absolutely no guesswork involved for the reader and there are not any critical thinking skills involved in any way shape or form. Everything just is...and that makes it boring.

This book had so much potential! It had a great story line...it was just really really poorly executed. I would love the book...had it been written by someone else. As is, it's just kind of eh. I think I rolled my eyes at lest a hundred times. And the amount of cheese is just dreadful.

And would you know, it almost started to get good when the story wasn't just about the stupid relationship...and then things reverted.

I really do love YA books, but it would be nice if authors would quit assuming that the love story is all we really care about. It's sad. And ruins so many potentially good stories.

Oh, and that ending...talk about predictable *yawn*. I think it's funny how they tried to make it seem like a plot twist...but really only succeeded in attain the obvious.

I probably won't finish the series....but I suppose it was a good effort.
34 reviews2 followers
May 29, 2016
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book - the only problem with that is that I have a longer wait for book 2 :0)

It's really hard for me to review this as I'm afraid I will reveal too much - but I will try but it will still be more bullet points.
First I will start with books I loved as I think it will give better insight as to why I loved this book: I loved the Study Series and Glass series and Healer series by Maria V. Snyder mainly because I really liked her characters and all had strong women and the teen "angst" was believable and not whiney. All the female characters had self doubt but it was still a strength. (While the Twilight series is my fluff read - the teen angst and whiney-ness amongst Bella and Edward and Jacob DRIVE ME CRAZY and I don't think Bella is a great role model - sorry)

So that is one of the first reasons I loved Winter Falls. Alessia is strong, intelligent and believable. As are her interactions with her mother and friends.

The story is vividly told. There is only one descriptive sentence in the first few chapters I didn't like but that's ok. The overall book and story more than makes up for that a thousand fold.

The story moves quickly, kept me guessing, and left me wishing I had book 2 to dive into.

This is book one of 3 and I am already dying for book 2!!!

Definitely pick up this book when it comes out in December!!! It will be worth your time and you will be left with "book hangover" - and you'll find yourself starting to read more slowly as you near the end of the book simply because you don't want the book to end.

I guess the biggest, albeit probably somewhat lame, compliment I can give the book is that nothing got done in my house on July 15th as the one chapter I said I would read became the whole book. I couldn't and didn't want to put it down and finished the whole thing that afternoon/evening. I was actually kinda annoyed I had to briefly stop to feed my children :) (but what's a bibliophile to do?)

Ms. Maggi is a gifted writer and I look forward to book 2 in this story as well as her other book, The Forgetting which is due out in Feb 2015.
Profile Image for Melissa Landers.
Author 11 books3,252 followers
August 18, 2014
This was so much fun! I especially love the glimpses of Italian culture that Nicole gives us. Looking forward to continuing the saga with book 2!
Profile Image for Alicia (A Kernel of Nonsense).
522 reviews99 followers
July 4, 2015
Nothing ever happens in the town of Twin Willows, Maine. Alessia Jacobs would love to be anywhere else, but with an overprotective mother, the odds are not looking good. When the Wolfe family arrives, Alessia is drawn to their son Jonah, but his twin sister Bree seems determined to make her life miserable. When an accident reveals a latent ability, Alessia discovers that she is part of a shape-shifting clan called Benandanti and as a member she must protect an ancient magic in her town from the Malandanti, an evil clan bent on taking control of the magic in Twin Willows.

“An instant later, an inhuman shriek of straining metal and broken glass pierced the air, so loud and horrible that I had to cover my ears. The sound echoed inside me, filling my chest and throat and throbbing against my eardrums.”

I haven’t read any books like Nicole Maggi’s Winter Falls, but I was left with more questions than answers by the end. Although the book pits two clans of shape-shifters against one another, developing this conflict became difficult when much of this world is shrouded in mystery. Alessia’s guide, Heath, who also helps on her family’s farm, is her only real connection to this world, but in order to safeguard the secrets of the Benandanti, she is only privy to her guide’s identity. One of the biggest questions I had was about the Malandanti and while it’s explained to Alessia that they’re trying to take control of every magical site in the world, it is never explained why they want this power and specifically how they intend to use it.

Alessia has a contentiousness relationship with her mother, who is determined to protect her daughter even if it means stifling her. This protectiveness borders on irrational at times, but this isn’t explained despite the fact that I think the reason is quite obvious. I did enjoy the fact that the protagonist has a close-knit group of female friends and that her best friend Jenny is such an important person in her life. The mysterious Jonah is much more of an enigma than a full-realized character. Despite declaring that she isn’t the type of girl to fall quickly for a guy just because he is good-looking, Alessia does just that and by the time the novel ends, I didn’t feel like I knew Jonah any better as a person. His sister Bree is introduced as a personal antagonist to Alessia, but she also lacked a well-rounded personality and only showed up long enough to remind everyone that she didn’t like the protagonist.

Winter Falls had a few twists that were cliché, making many parts of the story predictable. The love story in many ways did not feel necessary and all the secrecy really subtracted from a rather interesting world of shape-shifting.
Profile Image for Jess at Such a Novel Idea.
597 reviews178 followers
December 16, 2014
I received a copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way.

What first drew me to this book was the incredible cover — it is just gorgeous and ethereal and drew me in to its magic. But honestly, when I picked the book up to review, I couldn’t even remember the synopsis. I remembered the cover, and how much I wanted to read it, but the premise of the book alluded me. So I went in a little blind, which to be honest can be a good thing.

From the very beginning of the book, I had a “Twilight” feel, but I think that is hard to escape when you are reading a YA paranormal book. However, the feeling did not remain and the story of the Benandanti took over. I loved the back story for this book, including the author’s note about how this lore was grounded in real history. Of course, I also loved the interwoven Italian in the book — and the author did a great job of making us understand what she was saying in another language without outright saying it.

The romance was a little predictable, but I liked that Alessia wasn’t self depreciating about being a ‘plain girl’ who won the heart of the hot mysterious guy. She knew she wasn’t the most popular, but she also knew her self value and wasn’t afraid she was too plain for the guy. While her actions were immature at times, it just made her all the more of a real teenager to me.

Also predictable was the plot points, like who the bad guys would be and what the real purpose of this company moving to town — there was enough foreshadowing from the beginning to figure these things out, but it didn’t detract from the story. I began this book at 1 a.m., thinking I’d just get a chapter or two in. When I looked up, I had already read over 100 pages. Obviously, the story draws you in. It was a quick, spell binding read. The end left things up in the air, and of course wishing for the next book. I hope to learn more about the origin of this ‘world’ and how these magical people came to be.

For me, the splitting of the soul into an animal being was so incredibly fascinating. This series started off great and left me wanting more!

This review as originally posted at Such a Novel Idea.
Profile Image for Farrah.
1,249 reviews208 followers
December 14, 2014
I liked Winter Falls. It was an enjoyable read, though somewhat predictable, and I thought it was nice.

Alessia was a good heroine. She was strong and generally likable. She had moments where she came off as somewhat bratty, though. But, overall, I liked her.

Jonah was good as well. He was adorable, swoon-worthy, and just delightful. He had secrets, which were admittedly predictable. I thought he was great.

The romance was sweet. After that ending, I'm unsure how things will go for them, but I'm hoping for the best.

There were a couple of downfalls, though. One thing that was just a little weird to me was that in every situation, other than when she spoke directly to her, Alessia referred to her mother by her given name. It was just a little odd. The major problem, though, was that I really needed more explanation about the whole mythology. I had several unanswered questions. What were the origins of the Benendati? At what point did they start to battle with their rivals and for what reason? I just needed a lot more explanation to be able to fully buy it all. And the fact that I didn't brought the book down for me.

The plot was well paced and kept me interested all the way through. Despite the issues I had, I still liked the story in all and the ending has me curious about what will happen next.

Winter Falls was a good YA read that I enjoyed. Though it wasn't perfect, I still liked it. YA lovers, you might want to check this book out.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Maci.
307 reviews
July 4, 2014
Winter Falls by Nicole Maggi is about a girl named Alessia and her town Twin Willows. It is her Father's first birthday after he died and so Alessia goes to their favorite spot together, the waterfall in the woods behind her family's goat farm, and lets go of the last of his ashes. But when she looks up she sees a panther watching her. Alessia runs back to safety and thinks nothing of it. There is a new family in town and Alessia has a fancy for the son, Jonah, but Jonah's twin sister, Bree, seems to hate Alessia. Alessia helps register the twins at school but moments after they leave she passes out on the floor and has a dream about being a falcon. Earlier Alessia had found an amulet under a loose brick in her house and researches it. She finds out about the Benandanti and soon realizes that she might be one. She is approached by another Benandanti who will be her Guide, but she has to make a choice, to accept the call of the Benandanti or not.

I really liked this book, I could not put it down and stayed up late reading it. This book was amazing, I am super sad that I finished it and have to wait for the next one. I would recommend this book to anyone who liked Otherkin by Nina Berry or to anyone who likes animals and worries about the environment.
1 review
November 7, 2014
Winter Falls, the first installment in a new series by Nicole Maggi, is YA novel about Alessia, a young girl who learns that she is one of the Benandanti (a race of supernatural being that are able to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the form of animals) while at the same falling for the new guy in town, Jonah Wolfe.

I liked the book. It has a different take on shape changers and their fight in the good vs. evil which I thought was fresh and appealing. There are tones of conservation and protection of nature in the book in a way that YA readers can relate to which also gives this book a message. The book is very entertaining and I think written at an appropriate level for YA. The plot was somewhat predictable as you got into the book. I was not at all surprised by who the "bad guy" was halfway through the book, but again, I think that is because it IS written for the YA readership. I would recommend the book.
Profile Image for Keisha Keenleyside.
Author 4 books49 followers
November 21, 2015
Winter Falls tells a story of girl who agrees to become part of a war between two clans, transforming into a falcon to battle other spirit creatures.

The story holds a lot of promise, but there isn't enough about the Benandante (sp) to hold my interest for long, mostly its a story about a girl who ditches her mates to spend time with a guy who is so obviously her enemy its not even a surprise.

I found Alissa pretty annoying, she agreed to the call and complained about it interferring with her life the rest of the book.

I did enjoy some parts but for the majority it was just like reading a boring highschool day and moaning lots of moaning about anything she is faced with.

I probably wont buy the second.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,615 reviews160 followers
July 11, 2015
I knew, as soon as I started this, that I wasn't going to like it. I pushed through and just confirmed I didn't.

This, for me, is a great example of a good YA book that is good for a YA aged person to read. I'm sure there will be a sea of great ratings from age appropriate readers.

I, however, am not the target audience (being an adult) and just found the book to be too silly and unbelievable and most of the characters were impossible to like.
88 reviews
March 26, 2015
I really wanted to like this one, but I was disappointed in the story for some reason. It was a let down for me. I didn't dislike it, but neither did I like it. Her mother bothered me a lot, with how overprotective she was, I found the main character's (and I've forgotten her name now) reactions to her mom to be not all that convincing to let her have her way more often. For example, if I wanted to start going to the mall with my friends without adult supervision (naturally when I was actually old enough to do so, my mother would never have let me go to the mall without an adult if I had been under the age of 12 no matter my maturity level, just for safety reasons), I had to prove to her I was mature enough to handle the experience on my own. But this girl just gets angry and doesn't actually say or do anything productive that would actually make her mom stop and listen a bit to her. Although I do agree with the girl that her mom is way too protective and should actually back off a bit. I wasn't a fan of how she called her mom by her first name. That to me shows a massive disrespect. I get that there are people out there who don't want to be called mom/dad, but why the heck would you have kids if you don't want to be called a mom? It doesn't make sense to me and that is one of the things that bothers me in real life or book life. Although if the parent is a bit of a snot and unworthy of being called mom/dad (for example, perhaps they are neglectful or abusive) I don't mind that situation, and actually commend them as those types of parents have not earned the respect that comes with the titles mom/dad. In this case, her mother was not either one of these parental types, the daughter called her mom to her face, but not around anyone else. And other than being overprotective, she wasn't a bad mother. Which to me means, she should be calling her mom regardless of anything, but nope. Behind her mom's back she was not mom but her name, which I think was Lidia but could be wrong. I found this extremely disrespectful, and just kinda went with her attitude throughout the book towards her mother and certain acts that she did throughout it as well. Another thing that I just remembered, and can't believe I forgot, was there was a point, near the beginning, where the MC goes on a date with the MC guy, and on their way home they kiss. Her mom comes and breaks them apart and calls her something in Italian, but I got the impression it may have had the same connotation as whore. Not sure about you, but I'm not a big fan of anyone calling anyone else that, and I don't know any parent who would call their daughter that. Especially since they were just kissing. Inappropriate and I felt that there was no proper resolution to this, she just gets mad at her mom and then falls back in line. I'd be like we're done. Don't ever talk to me again.

And this was more of a personal preference. I get that the mom is Italian, and it's nice to put another language in it, but only like one or two words that are relatively easy to figure out what they say. In this book her mom rattles off sentences in Italian, with no English translation. Um, have no idea what she said, and so spent most of the scenes with the mother very confused and lost. Like the scene with the kissing. She yelled the word in Italian after saying I can't believe my daughter would go and act like a *insert Italian word here* and it had a tone of nastiness, especially with the daughter's reaction. I have read books before with other languages every once in a while, but usually those ones only have phrases like: "hello", "how are you", etc., and you can usually figure out what they are saying. They don't say the whole thing in the other language. Having another language being said when the reader is English only really works in movies because there are such things called subtitles. I didn't see any glossary explaining any of the sentences or words that the mother spoke. And then randomly, at some point, the mom was speaking Italian in Italian words when suddenly Nicole decided that it was more appropriate to suddenly have the words in English so that people could actually understand what they were saying, and putting down for context that they were still speaking in Italian. And then said they switched to English at some point so that we knew. Um, why did it take four or five chapters to get to that point? One or two words in another language is ok, but when every sentence the mom says is not in English it's rather frustrating (especially when there is no English translation directly after it) and then to suddenly be all "O I forgot that other people might not know the language I'm using, perhaps I should actually allow them to be able to read it". Ya, no thanks. A little too late for that pass. Had it only been one time, with the odd word here or there that was easy to guess at what it was, I might have been a little nicer about this, but truly, I was left so confused at the beginning of the story due to the Italian that was randomly thrown in there, which I will take to mean that it was unnecessary to the plot since I couldn't understand it. But if that was the case, and it was unnecessary, why put it in at all? I just took a writing course yesterday, and when you have unnecessary things in your writing, people get annoyed. I wonder why that could possibly be? For this reason alone, I would probably not continue the rest of the series, except Nicole seemed to clear it up after a while. However, I'm not sure I will even reread this book because of this issue. I found it way too distracting and way to difficult to get past.

As for the whole Benadanti and Maladanti aspect, I wasn't sure if I bought it. It just didn't seem all that interesting to me, and I was annoyed at a specific character for their refusal to listen or see reason near the end about the whole issue. I won't say more so I don't spoil it, but needless to say I guessed it right after all of the characters were introduced, and was sadly disappointed that nothing actually differed from my predictions.

O, and just for your information, I know, from reading reviews, that there is quite the divide on this, so some of you might be all yay, and others will therefore avoid this book, but there is some heavy duty instalove in this series. They barely meet and then she is switching his schedule with his twin's at the office so that they can be in the same classes. Really? Wow. Don't get me wrong. I think it's possible to be instantly attracted to someone, and I think from there it can grow, and I don't mind reading stories with that instant attraction, but it has to be done well. It also has to be clear that it was attraction and not love, and in this case, not only was it instalove, but it was also not done that well or believable. I've read others with a similar storyline that had done it much better and more believable. So, just beware if this is the type of thing that bothers you, you might not be able to get over it.

It is too bad, because I can see where this would have been a great story, and there were lots of great reviews (hence I picked it up) but it just wasn't for me. I ended up skimming it as I just couldn't get into the story. Perhaps it's that I read it right around the same time as a couple of other series that I really took to and wasn't ready to read this one yet, but I just couldn't get into it all that well. If you don't mind many sentences in another language that you don't speak/read, instalove, or any of the above that really bothered me, give it a shot. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean that you won't, or even if that stuff does bother you, don't dismiss this because every once and a while there is an amazing book finished that has many things that normally bother me, and yet I manage to like them, but I would actually recommend getting it from the library or a friend and not buying it. I truly regret paying the money for this book. Sad day.
Profile Image for Enchanten's.
Author 5 books2 followers
March 16, 2023
Winter Falls tells a story of girl who agrees to become part of a war between two clans, transforming into a falcon to battle other spirit creatures.

The story holds a lot of promise, but there isn't enough about the Benandante (sp) to hold my interest for long, mostly its a story about a girl who ditches her mates to spend time with a guy who is so obviously her enemy its not even a surprise.

I found Alissa pretty annoying, she agreed to the call and complained about it interferring with her life the rest of the book.

I did enjoy some parts but for the majority it was just like reading a boring highschool day and moaning lots of moaning about anything she is faced with.

I probably wont buy the second.
Profile Image for Viola Sung.
456 reviews24 followers
May 2, 2019
Insta-romance, lack of character depth and an uninteresting narration. I found it hard to immerse myself in the world or the story as it was really unbelievable. But I guess as a fictional story it was okay, so I finished it without taking too long.

Hope the writing improves in the next books, but not particularly looking forward to continuing the story.
Profile Image for Pamela.
686 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2017
I found this to be true to its genre, a little too immature. It redeems itself though by presenting a unique take on shape-shifting.
Profile Image for OpenBookSociety.com .
3,818 reviews116 followers
December 10, 2014

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Adelynne

Aleissa is your typical teenage girl until she discovers that she has magical abilities. I’ll admit, this concept is extremely overused, but Maggi manages to use it in such a way that I didn’t feel irritated or annoyed at all when I read it. Although there were a few flaws in this book that really irritated me, it wasn’t enough for me to round it down to three stars.

Maggi’s writing can be simplistic at times, but she is extremely skilled in using imagery and descriptions when Aleissa is a falcon- it’s breathtaking. She’s also very good at capturing the emotions and thoughts of a teenage girl- Aleissa’s actions were very representative of that teenage rebellion stage everyone goes through. In addition, the plot is light and enjoyable, with no dark issues or themes. Winter Falls is more of a character oriented book rather than an action oriented one.

Unfortunately, most of the characters besides Aleissa are very static and 2-D. Aleissa is a bit shallow at first, but she eventually grows and develops into her ability. However, even as she matures, she can still be a bit too obsessed over romance rather than seeing the big picture. Her love interest, Jonah, is a pretty typical guy with secrets and a mysterious family. His character always seemed a bit flat and was not developed very well. In fact, the only dynamic character in this novel is Aleissa. What I did like, was how Aleissa’s best friend Jenny is very supportive of Aleissa and is always there to reassure her when she thinks her life is going awry. Aleissa’s relationship with her mother is very believable, with a bit of conflict thrown here and there. Although her mother is the typical “parent-keeping-dangerous-secrets-from-child” parent, her relationship with her daughter is sweet, supportive, and involved. I’d have to say my favorite character is Bree- even though her character is a bit overused, it is refreshing to have a snarky character full of hate for everyone.

I enjoyed the plot overall, but it is very predictable and I was able to easily guess the “mysterious” identity of the Panther that Aleissa meets. The world-building in this novel is not very good either. It needs more elaboration on the Benandanti and the Malandanti, and how each of them came to be. It’s complicated relationship between the two groups, and is one full of constant enmity. I wanted more information on this, and how the people involved can contact others around the world, ect. The beginning is very slow and boring, but it quickly picks up the pace after Aleissa gains her powers and really compensates for the rather mediocre beginning at the end- which is amazing and is keeping my breath held for the next book.

The only thing I really hated was the romance. I cringed at nearly every scene- Jonah and Aleissa’s “love” is very superficial, and it’s one of those cliche insta-love things. The two barely even know each other, and they start dating after a few short interactions. Definitely not enough for love. It’s nice how the two are supportive of each other, especially Aleissa, but their romance is just too spontaneous to feel realistic and it really needs more depth to it. I also really did not like how Aleissa immediately becomes obsessed with Jonah from the first moment she meets him. She practiacally stalks him, constantly asking and thinking about him like he’s the only thing that exists in her life- and this is around the time where they haven’t even officially become acquaintances. The novel is way too focused on the romance in a few parts, but it does redeem itself by concentrating on other issues.

Overall, Winter Falls is a very quick, fun read that should appeal to readers that love magic and shapeshifting abilities. I did enjoy this book a lot despite some of its issues and Winter Falls is a great debut novel.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Stephanie Ward.
1,176 reviews116 followers
December 13, 2014
3.5 Stars

'Winter Falls' is the first book in an exciting new young adult paranormal trilogy that follows the heroine, Alessia, as she goes about her boring life in her small town of Willow Falls, Maine. Nothing ever happened here - good or bad - there was no excitement to speak of. Until the Wolfe family moves to town and Alessia finds herself falling for Jonah - the mysterious and hot son of the powerful family. As if this wasn't enough excitement, Alessia soon begins having visions of becoming an otherwordly falcon. Confused and scared, she searches for answers and discovers that she is a part of the Benandanti, an ancient group of warriors who have the power to separate their souls from their bodies, and then transform into animals. Alessia also discovers that there has been a war between the Benandanti and the Malandanti for centuries - each group wanting to have control over the magic that's in the forest near Alessia's house. As she and Jonah grow closer, Alessia's mission with the Benandanti grows more serious - and finally the two sides of her life collide. Now she's faced with making decisions that nobody her age should ever have to make.

I haven't read a shapeshifter book in quite awhile and I was excited to get back into the genre. On the surface the book might sound like a regular story about shapeshifters and magic, but once you start getting into the main plot of the book, it's plain to see that there's a lot more going on than I thought. I loved learning all about the Benandanti - their history, mission, and what they stand for - of course, I also loved learning the same things about the opposing group, the Malandanti. I found the details and descriptions about both group - their histories, the war between them, the magic that they're fighting over - to be really fascinating. I'm really hoping that we get to learn more in the next two books. Alessia was a great main character for the book. She's smart, strong, down to earth, and determined. Once she realizes who and what she is - and what's happening - she's faced with making some incredibly difficult decisions, which I thought she did with a great amount of maturity. Of course, I loved watching Alessia and Jonah together and seeing their relationship change and grow throughout the book. The story was told at a good rate - not too fast to confuse the reader, and not too slow to make it boring either. The writing was well done and I found myself easily sliding into the world the author created along with identifying with the characters on a personal level. Overall, I think this is a solid first book in a promising new YA trilogy that has lots of potential to become amazing. I definitely recommend it to fans of the genre as well as those who enjoy fantasy and paranormal fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mak.
127 reviews66 followers
December 9, 2014
I received an advance copy from Librarything in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the chance to read it!

This book was unexpectedly good. I thought almost everything about it was great. I originally picked it up because the synopsis mentioned Maine. I always add fiction novels to my to-be-read list when they mention my home state! As someone who's from Bangor, and has traveled most of the state I don't think it really grasped that Maine feel: the pine, the woods, or the ocean. But, I guess I'm just spotting things that might not matter to other readers.

We meet Alessia just after her father passed away. On the anniversary of his birthday she goes to the spot they cherished together while he was alive to spreads his ashes. Throughout the book her father is mentioned. It really ties in the family element. Alessia is Italian- her and her mother were born there. This is something that sets the whole tone of the book. Alessia's mother is very superstitious and that melds into the Italian shape-shifting/spirit-shifting Benandanti that she becomes.

I found all of the elements of Winter Falls to be fun and exciting, much like I have experienced with Jennifer Armentrout's books. Armentrout's books are the first things that came to mind when I started Winter Falls. We have a strong female protagonist pining for a new-kid-in-town who is a good lookin' bad boy. The major distinction between Maggi and Armentrout is in the character writing. Maggi creates lovable and humorous (and thoughtful!) characters. Alessia's best friend is a welcomed presence throughout.

The Benandanti versus Maladanti story was clever. There were catches to having your soul ripped from your body: you could become a badass animal and be magical- or - you could die if someone turns your body or kills your form. It was something that was established early on and I appreciated that.

The love interest, Jonah, has just moved into town with his twin sister, Bree, and their parents. The romance was the only problem I experienced while reading the book. I enjoyed the slow-burn through the first half. It's mostly a set-up of the Ben/Maladanti "war". When they finally get together I found Jonah a bit cranky. He just wasn't appealing.

I would recommend Winter Falls to anyone, especially a Jennifer Armentrout fan. It was engrossing from the start, and if you enjoy both shape-shifting and romance, it makes for a nice young adult read. Winter Falls has a great overall story. It's definitely worth picking up.
Profile Image for Once.
2,344 reviews69 followers
March 7, 2015
Twin Willows is a boring small town that confines Alessia to a redundant life. Enter the Wolfe family to upturn everything that bores Alessia about Twin Willows. Jonah is the beautiful stranger who Alessia sets her eyes on, while his father is the man making plans for a power plant that will change the future of the town. Much to Alessia's surprise she then gets the Call-joining the Benandanti may make her life more complicated, but it may also be her way of making her life more exciting.

I really enjoyed this book. The first half was a little too slow for me, I found myself dreading picking it up to read. But halfway through next thing I knew I couldn't put it down and I wanted to continue along this journey with Alessia. Nicole Maggi has a way of writing that transports you into Alessia's shoes, you almost feel as if she is a part of you. That made me love the character of Alessia so much more than any of the others, especially since the story revolves around her. You deal with her hardships and you deal with her tribulations, sometimes you're angry about these trials that she faces-but that just makes the story so much better. I am really looking forward to the sequel, there are so many ways the story could go; I cannot wait to see where Maggi decides to take the characters.

One of my favorite parts of this book was that it reminded me of the story of Taha-Aki in Eclipse. The Benandanti are shapeshifters essentially, except for they have a set animal that they change into. This reminded me of Eclipse because the wolves, before they were wolves, would leave their bodies behind but be able to communicate with those who had also chosen to let their soul roam the earth. Basically that is what the Benandanti are doing, although they are also fighting against the Malandanti. The history behind the Benandanti and Malandanti intrigued me and I really hope that Maggi goes deeper into the history in the sequels.
Profile Image for Wendy C.
250 reviews4 followers
February 4, 2015
Winter Falls (Twin Willows Trilogy #1) by Nicole Maggi <\b>

Winter Falls (Twin Willows Trilogy #1) by Nicole Maggi <\b>tells the story of Alessia who finds out that she is part of a supernatural race called the Benandanti. The Benandanti are able to separate their souls from their bodies and then take form of an animal.

The Benandanti have a rival faction of warriors called the Malandanti. Both are trying to gain control of the seven magical sites around the world. One of these sites is at the waterfalls in Alessia’s home town of Twin Willows.

Allessia not only is dealing with the news that she can turn into a Falcon, but she also has to contend with her teenage hormones because of the new guy, Jonah that moved to town with his family. Unfortunately, Jonah’s father is working for the Guild who is Malandanti and they want to put a power plant over the waterfall in order to control the magic.

The story is somewhat predictable but was vividly told. The main characters were strong and felt real. They acted how I think a teenager would act given the situations in which they were placed.

The big problem I had with the book was the lack of information about the two factions, Benandati and Malandanti. Yes we know they are an ancient cult of warriors who souls separate from their bodies and take the form of an animal but why did they begin, why are they fighting against each other. Now grant it, all these things might be explained in the following books but I think it would have been more helpful in the beginning so you had a better understanding of the dynamics.

Despite that little hiccup, I still enjoyed the book a great deal. I think it was a fun read.

3.7 Stars
Profile Image for Erin.
229 reviews40 followers
May 22, 2015
Winter Falls was not what I was expecting. And to be honest, I'm not really sure what I expected when I picked this one up. It started out really slow, and I found it hard to pick up and read and get through it. I debated on if I just wanted to stop and put it up and come back to it later. But I have done that with so many books and not returned to them. I didn't want this to be added to that pile.

If you're not familiar with this story or what it's about, let me fill you in a bit. Alessia grew up in a small boring town of Twin Willows on the family dairy farm. Nothing exciting happens there until the alluring Wolfe family moves to town and brings with them their handsome son, Jonah. Alessia is drawn to him and he is to her. She soon finds out that she is part of the ancient group called the Benandanti, who are mortal enemies of the Malandanti. They are shifters who shift into animal form and protect magical places.

In this book, Alessia is not aloud to speak of her Benandanti side. She starts to try to speculate who is Malandanti after she is targeted in a bus crash. it leaves the reader trying to figure out who is on what side as well. But if you are a quick study, you can pick up rather quickly who is on what side even before you get half-way through the book. Once I got to the half-way point, I couldn't wait to finish the book to find out what was going to happen. However, with the slow start and the guessing right off who is who, I could only give this one 3 stars, but I still can't wait to read the sequel, In the Mouth of the Wolf, due to hit shelves June 9th 2015.
Profile Image for Chris Meads.
648 reviews10 followers
May 27, 2015
I decided to read this one since I won book two on Library Thing. That way I would know what was going on instead of trying to figure out the plot.

Alessia lives in Twin Willows, a small town in Maine. She visits her favorite place, a waterfall near the farm where she lives, a place her father showed her before he passed away. As she sits there, watching the water, she notices a black panther staring at her.

One night she has a dream of being a falcon, and then after skipping school one day, she becomes that falcon she dreamed of as the bridge crumbles, killing several people and wrecking the bus she was on. And to complicate things further, there is a new family in town and she falls hard for the son, Jonah. His father is head of a group of people that want to put a power plant where her favorite place is, the falls

She learns of the Benandanti and since she is one, decides to follow them. Their counterpart, the Malandanti are evil. What are they up to and what does Alessia find out about herself and the boy she loves.

I really like this book and cannot wait for the next one so I can continue reading the story. The characters are real and the scenery that the story takes place is beautiful. I would recommend this book to those that like fantasy and nature, and those concerned about the environment.
Profile Image for CallMeSensei.
319 reviews23 followers
July 11, 2015
I received an early review copy thanks to LibraryThing.com.

Winter Falls, the first installment in a new series by Nicole Maggi, is YA novel about Alessia, a young girl who learns that she is one of the Benandanti while at the same falling for the new guy in town, Jonah Wolfe. The Benandanti are a supernatural race from Italy who are able to detach their souls, in the forms of animals, from their bodies to protect the world from their evil counterparts.

I feel like this story had so much potential. The elements for a great YA series are there: supernatural elements, romance, and more than a touch of tragedy. But, there is ultimately something missing. I found myself not caring at all about the development of the characters.

I’m not sure what’s missing in the character development. It might be that there is a heavy amount of world-building in the first hundred pages with very little romance. Or that the relationship gets really heavy really suddenly in the last sixty or so pages. Or it might be that the main character is so obviously a self-involved teenager. Or that I guessed where the plot was going from a third way through the novel. Either way, I was a little disappointed in the outcome of this novel.

Two out of five stars.

Check out my other reviews at callmesensei14.tumblr.com & follow me on twitter @callmesensei14!
Profile Image for Melanie Stockman.
255 reviews26 followers
January 8, 2021
Loved this book! Definitely going to order the next 2 books in the series because my heart is now broken and on the floor.

I read a few 1 & 2 star reviews and many of those reviews mention the pace of the book being too fast. I thought that too at first but then as the story progressed, I enjoyed its faster pace. Many books seem to drag things out to keep the mystery and twists more dramatic but I think Nicole did a great job at keeping the energy up and the mystery along with it.

This story was based upon Italian mythology of the Benandanti which I never heard about before picking this book. I really enjoyed learning about this interesting legend so I’m really excited to learn more as I read this series!

Alessia was a solid lead in this story. She had guts and charm.

Jenny was a great best friend! Always having Alessia’s back and telling the truth straight up!

Jonah. Oh where do I begin?! Green eyes, mysterious, charming, and a bit of a bad-boy. Ditching class and getting sent to the principal’s office on the first day of school.

Alessia and Jonah were definitely a cute couple! Although, Jonah’s choice of a first date...uhhhh creepy! I would’ve bolted back to my home if a guy said to meet him at a graveyard!!! But I guess to fictional bad-boy characters it’s romantic???

The ending had me feeling feelings.
Profile Image for Marleen.
34 reviews
October 27, 2014
I received an early review copy of Winter Falls by Nicole Maggi from Library Thing. This book review is for the first installment of a YA novel series by Maggi called the Twin Willows series.

The story follows a teenage girl from Twin Willows, Maine named Alessia who discovers that she is a member of a secret order supernatural beings, called the Benandanti, who have the ability to change their souls into animal forms to protect the world from the Malandanti, an evil order trying to control worldly magic. The novel begins with the arrival of the somewhat mysterious Wolfe Family including twins Bree and Jonah Wolfe. Alessia falls for Jonah before discovering the family's true intentions for the town of Twin Willows.

The novel began well and I enjoyed learning about the Benandanti and the role Alessia plays within it. However the Wolfe family and the story behind the Malandanti could have used some more development. The town itself and it's magical origins could have been elaborated on as well. I had figured out the direction of the plot fairly early in the novel finding it somewhat predictable but not a difficult or uninteresting read.
Profile Image for L-A.
45 reviews30 followers
July 17, 2020

Well, it was a love-hate relationship.
It was cliche that I kind of liked it...?

List of Best Cliches

1. The "Plain" Girl
The main character (I don't even remember her name and I finished this book two days ago oops) is just so PLAIN AHHHH. Well, at least she always says she is. She's always comparing herself to her friends and remarking on how she's not beautiful compared to them. Boring brown hair, boring brown eyes, you get the idea. Yet some hot teen model type guy falls for her? And that leads me to...

2. Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome
Jonah was exactly this. A *mysterious* boy who just confuses everyone. Their first date is in a... wait for it... graveyard. No joke. Actually a graveyard. And he's like, "I can't hear my own thoughts in a crowd, but here, there are people all around me and it's quiet enough to hear my thoughts. And the main girl is just like OMG THAT'S SO FREAKING MYSTERIOUS AND PROFOUND TAKE ME NOW JONAH

3. The Chosen One
Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Basically all YA novels. Need I say more?

With all these wonderful cliches, I enjoyed this book. Yet I also laughed at it.
Profile Image for Liz Donatelli.
290 reviews12 followers
July 22, 2015
WINTER FALLS, book one in Nicole Maggi's TWIN WILLOWS series, is a YA paranormal/supernatural page-turner that delivers action, suspense, magic and a ROMEO & JULIET-esque romance.

Sixteen-year-old Alessia discovers that she's part of an ancient clan whose members' souls can leave their bodies and shift into animal forms. The story's premise is inspired by the Benandanti, a 16th century Italian "fertility cult" that claimed to possess astral projection and shapeshifting abilities. Maggi adapts this fascinating piece of ancient history into a well-crafted story that focuses on Alessia's struggle between leading a normal teen life and accepting an extraordinary mission that will take her beyond the limits of her quiet, rural existence.

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