Author: Nicole Maggi
Series: Twin Willows Trilogy, #1
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.