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The Winter Riddle

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Once upon a time, the North Pole was a very noisy place. A kingdom cowered under the maniacal rule of the White Queen, The Vikings raided and pillaged as they were wont to do, and the Winter Witch avoided talking to any of them.

When her peace and quiet are obliterated by threats of war and Ragnarok, she’ll try anything to get them back. When casting spells to become nearly
...more
Paperback, 338 pages
Published November 1st 2018 by Black Spot Books (first published November 9th 2016)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  152 ratings  ·  64 reviews


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Wol
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review below. Custom Cocktail available at The Fantasy Inn.

Got a well thumbed-through copy of A Christmas Carol? Memorized your copy of Hogfather? Has it become The Lion, the Witch and the Worn Out? Well, good news, everyone! The Winter Riddle is a charming new festive fantasy that thoroughly deserves your attention. This is a tale with a bit of everything – Vikings, Frost Giants, Santa, Insane Royalty, Necromancy, Druids, and at the center of it all, a cranky witch who just want to be left
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Elley Murray
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm having a really hard time deciding what age group this is intended for. I got it thinking it was an adult novel, then I started reading it and going "Is this middle grade? No wait it must be adult... YA? No, that seems decidedly middle grade... But THAT is decidedly NOT middle grade content. ...Well huh." It was just that sometimes the humor was a little too on the nose, if that makes sense. I'm pretty sure this is an adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel with that particular quirky sense of humor that ...more
Shelly
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
"And she mourned, as much as it was appropriate and not at all insane to mourn the loss of a stew."

The Winter Riddle was a really fun read. I enjoyed the satirical tone, the plot was twisty enough for me to be engaged, and OMG SANTA IS IN IT!

I am often suspicious (rightly or wrongly) when a dude writes a main female character that she will be boring. But the main character Volgha is complex and relatable and very real. I found myself laughing aloud at several points, which confused people in St
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Steve
I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Not at all what I expected. Wasn't really in the mood for a book like this.
Amanda
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Santa, a witch, giants, Odin, Thor and Loki all in one novel. You would think it would be weird but this was one of the best books. I am definitely a fan of Sam Hooker. As an author I would describe him as a cross between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Very creative. I can’t wait to read more. This was my second or third novel I read by him and definitely will read more.
Koeur
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Black Spot

ISBN:9781732400702

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.7/5

Publisher’s Description: In this updated version of Sam Hooker’s humorous dark fantasy novel that’s a perfect holiday read, The Winter Riddle destiny calls on an unlikely hero to save the North Pole. The Winter Witch would have been more than happy to be left alone entirely, and that’s exactly the sort of person who sticks out like a sore thumb when destiny goes shopping for heroes. Destiny has a nos
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Kimberly
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Winter Riddle was a perfect pick for a fun fantasy read in December. While Santa Claus is a great character in this book (and I loved his origin story and how the act of delivering presents started) this story is really about The Winter Witch, Volgha, who just wants to be left alone but keeps getting stuck in the middle of everyone’s problems.

This was a very funny read (I laughed out loud a few times) and has everything you could want from a fantasy book, witches, greedy queens, frost giant
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Sheela Kean
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a hilariously farcical adventure story, the wit and humor of this fantasy story overflow in a way that makes me think a lot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Volgha the winter witch just wants to practice her witchery in peace, away from the kingdom of Aurora (in the north pole of course) where her extravagantly crazy sister rules as queen, add in a drunkenly ridiculous Loki, Vikings, Norse Gods, Druids in trees and an Ex-warrior named Santa Klaus well things get a little stressful f
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Sheela Kean
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a hilariously farcical adventure story, the wit and humor of this fantasy story overflow in a way that makes me think a lot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Volgha the winter witch just wants to practice her witchery in peace, away from the kingdom of Aurora (in the north pole of course) where her extravagantly crazy sister rules as queen, add in a drunkenly ridiculous Loki, Vikings, Norse Gods, Druids in trees and an Ex-warrior named Santa Klaus well things get a little stressful f ...more
Diane Hernandez
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Part Game of Thrones, part The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and part Viking mythology, Winter Riddle is a thinking person’s fantasy. And it’s hilarious!

At the North Pole, Volgha the Winter Witch is just trying to live an introverted life. However, her younger sister took over the kingdom, her mentor is now a tree and Santa is the worst neighbor ever. Enter the wacky fantasy world of Winter Riddle.

Incorporating Viking myth, witchy lore, familiars and Santa in one plot doesn’t even sound pos
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Roger
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a habit of buying Christmas themed novels and short story collections to read in the season. "The Winter Riddle" is a humorous fantasy novel, the equivalent of a cozy mystery. It is almost NOT a Christmas themed novel. Santa is a secondary character and his origin as a gift giver comes up in the last ten pages.
All of the above included, it is an enjoyable read.
Naty
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was such a delightful read, I am so, so glad I picked it up! While some of the content of the book makes me think it's perhaps not really for children, The Winter Riddle has the whimsical atmosphere, witty dialogue and wonderful characters you'd wish for in a fantasy middle grade. Gosh, this was such a fun read! Witches + Vikings + a rather mad queen? A tree that used to be a druid? What's not to love??
Cornelia Sanders
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hilariously written winter tale, combining aspects of so many different things like viking mythology, witchery, Santa, and more. Best for fans who like a little absurd, at times over the top, sometimes rediculous humor similar to the Life of Brian, Discworld, or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It doesn't completely go to the nonsense spots, these two hit, but it is lingering on the same kind of quirky humor - at least from my perspective.

It was overall a really fun wintery book and I tru
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Nicki Markus
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Winter Riddle is a funny, entertaining tale that blends Santa with witches, Vikings, and Norse gods. The book kept me amused from start to finish, and often had me laughing out loud. The characters are well written and nicely fleshed out, and the plot is great fun and perfectly paced. All in all, this is a great book to read snuggled up by the fire on a cold winter's night. I appreciated the quirky humour in this piece and would definitely read more by the author in the future.

I received thi
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Amarinske
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
3 stars with an average of 5.5/10
My rating system:
1 star: 1.0-2.9/10
2 stars: 3.0-5.4/10
3 stars: 5.5-7.0/10
4 stars: 7.1-9.0/10
5 stars: 9.1-10/10
Rating based on plot, characters, and writing (2x)

Characters: 5.5/10
Plot: 7.5/10
Writing: 4.5/10
General enjoment: 5/10

Review
What is the target demographic of this book? The writing style and the way Volgha acts seem to imply it's for a young adult audience, but the way the story is built and the way the characters interact to make it feel like the book is
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Anjana
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I need to begin with something I am sure multiple blurbs will mention at some point. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and/or Neil Gaiman there is something  in this book that will resonate with you. There is a randomness to the story which eventually gets to a point which will make you smile. 

The story begins in a land far, far away with the winter witch Volgha. All she wants is to be left alone to do her own things. This is hampered by the fact that she was originally born in
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Laura
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This one was a bit slow to start for me, I didn’t get into it until about halfway through. I think mostly because I just couldn’t see where the story was going, and Volgha doesn’t really endear herself as a character. Once we meet the Vikings and the story started to take shape I began to enjoy it a lot more.
I liked the use of a mix of characters from different origins. They all played up to their stereotypes really (Santa was jolly and friendly, the Vikings were drinkers and fighters, and Volgh
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Joel Mitchell
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I discovered Sam Hooker’s writing a few months ago with his Black Spot Press debut: Peril in the Old Country. I enjoyed that book so much that I jumped at the chance to read this one.

Stir together a mirthfully unhinged monarch who is best friends with Loki, her sister who is the Winter Witch, Santa Claus (seen wielding a war hammer on the cover…so you can expect someone a little different from the “right jolly old elf”), battle-loving Vikings, and various other mythical/magical beings and you ju
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Pri
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
To start with the first few chapters didn't get to me, but then when the story started to unfold, I couldn't stop reading it. There was to much information and character at the start so I guess that's reason it didn't make me want to read it. But I wanted to know the story as there was to much to know about it. And I kind of want to be a witch now. The story was good and it was interesting. It had Santa, Asgard gods and magic. And you would never think how can there be these elements in one stor ...more
Michael
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a delightful surprise. It's plot is so convoluted it's pretty impossible to summarize, but it was so much fun to read you don't need to wonder 'where is this story going?' The novel introduces Volgha, the Winter Witch, sister of the demented White Queen, who lives slightly north of Santa and his village of elves, as well as not far from the Norse god Odin's city with it's various other gods and Vikings. Volgha, our heroine, is still learning the Witching Way and lives contentedly i ...more
Ioanna
Oct 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The North Pole hasn't always been an empty place. Once upon a time, a Kingdom lay there. And there were all kinds of different creatures there: from strange Queens and Viking Gods, to Santa and elves. And, among them all is our protagonist, the Winter Witch. When her world is threatened by Ragnarok, our Winter Witch will ally with Santa himself, and the result can only be both epic and hilarious.
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Jess (bookwyrmbella)
I struggled with this book a lot. It was supposed to be satirical and humorous but the story just fell flat for me. The first half of the book is taken up with world building and meeting the major players but nothing ever really happens. We meet characters from different mythologies like Santa, Vikings, Frost Giants, and Loki and the other Asgard Gods. They don't necessarily seem to really go together well. The main character, Volgha, is a witch who mostly just wants to be left alone but is basi ...more
Denice
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was perfect to read during this holiday season. It was really humorous and I enjoyed it a lot. It also had som really meaningful messages between all the jokes and silly stuff. I loved the writing style of this book.

Volgha the winter witch, our main character, was honestly just perfect for this story. I loved her. Her conversations with Osgrey were the funniest things ever.

I really liked some of the side characters as well, like Santa and Krespo. I do however think that the author cou
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Angie
My Review: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley, the following is my honest opinion. I saw this book and the synopsis sounded like an interesting take on the Santa origin story. I did really enjoy the fantasy influence as well as the various myths that are pulled into the book. Unfortunately, I did struggle with this one, it is a slow and cumbersome read, which I don't always mind but during the busy holiday season, it was a bit much for my liking. I also struggled with the satire humor, ...more
Roger
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fair disclosure department: I have known Sam Hooker forty years. Onward: George Bernard Shaw is credited with saying "Death is easy. Comedy is hard." But my friend Sam Hooker makes comedy look easy in The Winter Riddle. There are lots of examples of "funny" fantasy novels that are not funny at all (see the collected works of Craig Shaw Gardner) but The Winter Riddle will (I think) really make you laugh. The good thing about the book is that you start to forget yourself-by the time you get to the ...more
Gabrielle Mathieu
If you are a moody young woman who likes to wear black, you might well be a witch. Or aspire to be a witch. If you needed a tongue-in-cheek guide on how to behave, you could benefit from picking up The Winter Riddle, by Sam Hooker. Quaint, and yet somehow very modern, this is the tale of Volgha the Winter Witch. Volgha, like Greta Garbo just “vants to be alone,” in her moldering, but cozy hut in the far North of the world. Unfortunately, not only is she royal by blood, her depraved, needy sister ...more
 Reading Reindeer
Review of THE WINTER RIDDLE
by Sam Hooker

Beautifully and delightfully snarky. I frequently had to stop and reread a line to be certain I absorbed all the humour! (smile) Mr. Hooker definitely has a flair for writing, especially of writing his special combination of dark-humourous-eccentric-poignant-grim epic fantasy. Yes, that's a whole new subgenre I just coined, to fit this novel. Although it's mostly set in the Kingdom of Aurora at the wonderful North Pole, the themes and characters are often
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R.K. Emery
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is a very character driven novel and I love the fact that Hooker has given us both characters to root for and dislike.

My favorite part of this novel was the fact that along the way you don't know what is going to come next. There were many surprises and the way that the author was able to keep the pacing just right really helps everything flow naturally.

There is a darker element to the novel that I loved along with humor in between it all.It showed that a novel can toe the line of fantasy
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Francesca
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
*Thanks to Net galley and the publisher for providing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review*

3 stars

This book is weird. The writing style is great and the characters are compelling, but the story is, well, weird. It's a melting pot of traditions and stories, and I'm not convinced they go with each other.
Nevertheless, it reminded me of Terry Pratchett's books and that's always good.
Klara
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully funny and mysterious read! Sam Hooker is an author that manages to balance magic, mystery, riddles and sarcasm! I laught so hard while reading this book that I stopped drinking my tea! If you wan t a funny story that has its basis in old myths and nordic religions, this book is definitely for you! And besides, the cover alone is certainly a selling point!
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Sam writes darkly humorous fantasy novels about things like tyrannical despots and the masked scoundrels who tickle them without mercy. He knows all the best swear words, though he refuses to repeat them because he doesn't want to attract goblins. He lives in California with his wife and son, who renew their tolerance for his absurdity on a per-novel basis.

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