The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave


Full disclosure upfront. I love the lady who wrote this book. But, there is nothing that I'm going to say about The Way Past Winter that won't be backed up by a hundred other voices, and reviews. In the last two years, Kiran has become a well loved storyteller whose gift of creating beautiful emotional metaphors have become a trademark of her exquisitely told stories.

The Way Past Winter is another treat from the masterful author who gave us The Girl of Ink and Stars and The Island at the End of Everything. It is a fantastical snowy tale, about a family of three sisters and a brother, Mila, Pipa, Sanna and Oskar, who, having lost their mother to illness, lose their father to grief. Leaving his ring behind, he disappears into the forest and never returns. His disappearance coincides with the arrival of a winter which never melts into spring.


One day a fur-clad stranger arrives at their cottage in the forest with a band of men. In the morning both he, his men and Oskar have gone. The three sisters set out to find their brother and bring him home.

This story has the feel of an old Russian Folk tale, or fable. It is rich with evocative prose as the sisters travel north across frozen landscapes following the trail of their brother.

This, more than any of Kiran's other stories, is a page turner. It's truly gripping and otherworldly. A magical read about family, love and grief. For me the standout part of this books is the relationship between the three sisters, tender, blunt and fierce.

This book is published as a beautiful hardback in October, and I think will end up being a Christmas present in many a child's stocking, and what a wonderful gift it would be to receive. But, if you don't think anyone will get it for you, I recommend you treat yourself.