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The Sisters of the Winter Wood

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,137 ratings  ·  572 reviews
Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life - even if they've heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.

But before they leave, Liba discovers the secret that their Tati can transform into a bear,
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Redhook
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John Yeah, working in a book store we have seen lots of books coming through with similar covers. They are by different publishers, but I think they just…moreYeah, working in a book store we have seen lots of books coming through with similar covers. They are by different publishers, but I think they just know people are sick to death of the unimaginative cover art the have been making for the past few years.(less)
Cendaquenta It's partly inspired by true events that happened in 1903, though none of the book characters are based on real people.

Community Reviews

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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,137 ratings  ·  572 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle US 3/23/19

Look at this copy!!!! OMG!!!!! And yellow stained edges!

Everyone in this book got on my nerves! But, I still liked it. Funny that!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

ARC provided by Orbit in exchange for an honest review.

“Sometimes you know when you don’t belong, but you don’t know how to leave.”

This is one of the most atmospheric books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It was also able to evoke such a visceral reading experience from me. I never wanted to put this book down! And I knew that this was going to be heavy on the Russian folklore, but I had no idea that this was also a reimagining of Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. And I swear, I don’t r
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it

man, i was so looking forward to this - it seemed, from the description, to be exactly my kind of book; one blending fairytale sensibilities with realworld atrocities à la Gretel and the Dark, with girls shapeshifting into bears and swans, and coming as it did in an envelope full of bear n’ swan confetti and GOLDEN FEATHERS, Y’ALL!!!

and, because those bears are too good at camouflaging themselves:

feel free to read my palm!

knowing it was an unusual blend of rossetti’s goblin market
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
If there are a few things I love in my fantasy stories, they are: 1) good, diverse representation, 2) fairytale vibes and/or retellings, 3) historical settings, and 4) animals and/or shape-shifters. This book checks all those boxes, plus either other chapter is poetry (and if you didn’t know, I adore stories in verse), so basically this was one of the most “on brand for me” books I’ve ever seen in my life and I was absolutely ecstatic to read it.

There have always been rumors about the Kodari f
Will Byrnes
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.

-----From Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti
I know what might be happening to me; I just don’t know if I want it to happen, and I have a feeling that there’s nothing I can do to stop it once it starts.
Once upon a time two sisters lived in a house in the woods. Liba (almost 18) and Laya (15) are the
James Lafayette Tivendale
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fairy-tales, fantasy
Every family has a secret... and every secret tells a story.

I received an advanced reader copy of The Sisters of the Winter Wood in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Rena Rossner and Orbit Books for this opportunity.

The titular sisters and their parents live close to the village of Dubossary and reside in a house that is close to the woods. They are a Jewish family in a tale that is like a melting pot of reality, Jewish mythology and a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The sisters L
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My official review! Do NOT miss this book if you enjoy languorously paced, character-driven dark fairy tales and fantasies like "The Bear and the Nightingale" or "Uprooted."

"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."
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Oh, how I wish
this were darker.
The winter wood
held little chill.
Its thorns were so small
and brittle.

Two girls, one fair, one dark, live with their Tati and Mami in a house by the forest, a simple life of religion and toil. When a stranger appears at the door one night, telling of an extended family about whom they knew nothing, Liba and Laya’s lives are changed forever. Their parents are made suddenly mysterious by their secret pasts, with tales of transformations and violent transgressions b
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sisters Liba and Laya live on the edge of a forest, raised on fairytales away from the local townspeople. But when their parents leave them alone, and strangers start to invade their forests, the sisters must learn to face their true natures in order to uncover the truth about love, and the mystery surrounding their family.

I was intitially drawn to this by the concept. A lush fairytale, weaving Russian folklore with strong female l
Roman Clodia
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
If you enjoy modern whimsical re-tellings of folklore and fairy tales with a smattering of history (here Jewish pogroms in pre-Revolutionary Russia/Ukraine) then this might be for you. I liked the intentions but found this too YA and unsophisticated for my tastes.

The two sisters, especially, are schematic: Liba is bear-like, dark, aligned with her father, and tells her story in prose; Laya is swan-like, white-blonde, aligned with her mother, and narrates in 'poetry' (really, though, this is just
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This had so much potential, bucket loads in fact, but it sadly wasn't as alluring as I thought it was going to be. Don't get me wrong, this is still a beautiful book, I just felt it may have been a five star read in the making. The story moves slowly and takes quite a while before it moves at a better pace, and it has an authentic fairytale feel about it which I very much enjoyed. Told from Liba and Laya's perspective with each alternating chapter, the differing points of view add more interest ...more
3.5/5 stars.

So, I just realized I have never posted the review of this book, which I've written it the minute I finished it. Before reading this I saw a lot of comparison to Naomi Novak's books and I haven't read any of her books, yet. And while liking this book, I'm considering to give Naomi's books a shot.

What I liked:
-The cover: one of the most gorgeous covers of this year. I usually don't judge books by their covers but I couldn't help myself this time.
-The hisorical aspects in them. Apper
Anja H.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley


I'm afraid this book just wasn't for me, even though lots of people are probably going to love this.
This looked and sounded so promising (I mean, have you seen that gorgeous cover?!) and I'm all for discovering new ethnicities, cultures, history and folklore. I was hyped when I read this also involved shapeshifting swans and bears, but I just didn't like the execution at all. This was sooo slow!

My main problem was the writing. I love it when books borrow
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Sep 20, 2018 marked it as to-read
This book was a huge disappointment for me. I really love this genre and this won my heart by the mention of Uprooted and Bear and the Nightingale. These two books were also mentioning/telling other cultures, using cultural references as background; Uprooted Polish and Bear and Nightingale Russian. So a Jewish tale sounded so promising, as I thought it'll be interesting to read. But in Sisters of the Winterwood isn't using Jewish culture. It's overwhelmed by the religion and the endless terms. R ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
My thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown and Co for a review copy of the book.

This is a retelling of Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market but also much more, it weaves in folklore, history, myth and magic. This is the story of two sisters Liba, nearly eighteen, and fifteen-year-old Laya who’ve been living with their Tati and Mami in the woods on the outskirts of Dubossary, on the border between Moldova and Ukraine. Their family has never been accepted really in town for their mother is a conve
DNF at 33%

The Sisters of the Winter Wood is a historical fantasy novel following a Jewish Ukrainian family. The two main characters are Liba and her younger sister Laya, and this is a story of self-discovery that almost reads like a dark fairytale, partly inspired by Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and by many Russian and Ukrainian folktales.

Sadly, I couldn't get into this book at all. Half of it, Laya's PoV, is written in verse. I usually don't agree with those who say that modern poetry is
Katya Becerra
This book was one of my most highly anticipated debuts of 2018 - and it absolutely delivered! I'm enthralled by it, by its hypnotic writing, unique setting, and the dual-voiced narrative that is clever and so beautiful. I particularly enjoyed all the linguistic and cultural descriptions in this Jewish fantasy. I highly recommend it, and can't wait for Rena Rossner's next book!


♥ Kayleigh Kehoe ⚜ (Awkword Reviews)✍
"'He is a hunter, or did you not know that? All men are beasts inside. Some just show it differently than others.'"

Liba and Laya are two Jewish sisters that live in a small village surrounded by forest. When there is a knock on the door one night, it wakes the older sister, Liba, up, and as she eavesdrops she hears and sees parts of her current reality, past and future that were previously obscured from her. Her grandfather is dying. And Liba's father is needed at his side. After hearing this
Adam Sockel
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are not many books I can think of that so beautifully tell a story of family, love, magic, pain and culture like this. Rena has created a powerful story of two sisters, bound by the unique magic that both connects them and sets them apart. Equal parts prose and poetry, the dizzying, circular story reminds me Wintersong by S Jae-Jones as well as And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich. All of these stories keep you guessing and somewhat confused until you reach the final page and can, quit ...more
Sol ~ TheBookishKing
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sol ~ TheBookishKing by: Melanie
Happy Release Day to this Gorgeous Book!

Full Review can be found on my Blog Here!

This book is so enchanting and wonderful and I'm so glad it's now out in the world for everyone to read! I did just recently finish so it's not like it's been a long wait lol.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood is about two sisters (no duh Sol) who live in a small cottage in a small town. This features a Jewish Family, who are very devoted to their faith, and who are removed from their original family and not very accep
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure there are enough superlatives to describe this book. First, there's the magnificent cover. It sets the tone for the book better than any cover I've seen. The story was beautifully written--much of it in a prose poem style that works fantastically well to convey the thoughts and conversation of the characters. Two girls lost in the woods. How many fairy tales have had that theme? But this book twists and turns the cliche into something breathtaking and fascinating and new. (See how m ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This book was absolutely incredible.

It’s dark, beautiful and atmospheric. This is one of the best books I have read...ever. I was completely captivated by the beautiful writing, the atmospheric world building and the dark fairytale being told.

I loved how this was about finding yourself and learning to not be afraid or ashamed of who you truly are. I loved how it is about sibling bonds and the loyalty between 2 sisters. I, myself, always value loyalty and I am loyal to my family no matter w
Joshee Kun (조수아)
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Joshee Kun by: Melanie
I’m not ready for this. Could they have come for her already? I wish Tati was still here. I wish Mami had told me more…

I didn't expect this book to be a combination of fantasy and history. Melanie and Solomon, my blogger friends, liked it a lot. And understandably so. The writing was remarkably poetic, evoking an atmosphere of magic and whimsy. As for me, my enjoyment was significantly reduced by certain tropes.

At its core, The Sisters of the Winter Wood is a fairy tale that alludes to many hist
Hayley Chewins
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is unlike anything I've ever read. It's so beautifully crafted. It's utterly surprising, startling and fresh. It's a sister story, and a Jewish story, and a fairy tale, and a story about first love. It's magical and filled with the most delicious imagery. It's wonderful. Just wonderful. It'll make you believe in the power of language again.
Sep 22, 2018 marked it as will-probably-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I have decided to just give up on this. I am very much not the right kind of reader for this which is odd because I thought I would love this: I adore fairy-talesque stories influenced by Northern European folklore. I like books described as whimsy. I love stories focussing sibling relationships. But what I don't enjoy is YA-Romance; which this seems to mostly be. I could not get on board with the language nor the tone of the story. I don't think I would have picked this up if I had known that e ...more
CURRENTLY ON SALE FOR 1.99 FOR KINDLE! I freaking loved this book please go pick it up for yourself 💕📚

This review was originally posted on GracelingAccountant.


Hey Ya’ll!

This is my spoiler free review of Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. This is an own voices historical fiction novel with fantastical elements, and I loved everything about it. I think I personally lo
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A literary fantasy written in the tradition of books like Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale, The Sisters of the Winter Wood is Rena Rossner’s debut which blends magic and history with folklore and stories from her own Jewish ancestry. A nineteenth century narrative poem called Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti also provides much of the inspiration for the novel’s premise which centers on a pair of sisters who a
Lauren Chamberlin
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
‘He gives me a basket
full of fruit.
“I can’t take this,” I say.
“For your sister and you
to share.” He puts it in my hands.’
Not only is the cover to this story absolutely beautiful, but the content inside is amazing as well. It flips back and forth between prose and poetry, and I really enjoyed it. It added an extra depth and imagery to each of the sisters points of view. Made the story very unique.
I was curious to see how Rena Rossner would juggle the fantastical, historical, Jewish, and Goblin Ma
Review also on my blog!


Friends, I love this book. 💕 I think some readers who aren’t fans of verse in their novels may not enjoy it, but for anyone else, I highly recommend it. I want to say that before anything else because I went into reading this novel knowing very little other than that I loved its cover and found the synopsis enticing. I’m so glad I did. It captured my heart a
*Thea 'Wookiee'sMama' Wilson*
The Sister Of The Winter Wood was a unusual and yet a fascinating and extremely atmospheric read indeed.

For a debut novel, Rena Rossner really impressed me with her light touch, creative folklore and nicely fleshed out characters. The mythology behind the folklore is wonderful and gives the story a real, solid basis from which the real magic springs.

This glorious and outlandish tale is told from the dual perspectives of two Jewish sisters, in a time where Jews were horribly persecuted which give
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Rena Rossner lives in Israel where she works as a Literary Agent. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University's Writing Seminars program, Trinity College Dublin and McGill University where she studied history. All eight of her great grandparents immigrated to America to escape the pogroms in Moldova, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine - from towns like Dubossary, Kupel, Riga and Bendera. It is ...more