About the Book

Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Published: 2015
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Just One Taste
BFF Charm: Heck Yes, Make it Rain
Talky Talk: All Aboard
Bonus Factors: Squad Goals, Hints of Fairy Tales, Happily Ever Afters
Anti-Bonus Factor: TEABS*
Relationship Status: I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry it in My Heart)

Spoiler Alert: Danger, Will Robinson! Winter is the fourth book in the Lunar Chronicles series. If you have not read the other three main books–CinderScarlet, and Cress–and the prequel—Fairest—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first book, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the story.

But seriously, if you haven’t, go read the rest of this series.

Cover Story: Just One Taste

In keeping with the rest of the series’ covers, this cover hints at the fairy tale it’s titled for, with that little spin that helps you realize that this isn’t a straight retelling. For example, me thinks there’s more than poison in that apple; I certainly wouldn’t trust a fruit with a mysterious white substance/light emanating from it. (But then again, I’ve always been more of a Belle than a Snow White.)

The Deal:

Princess Winter Hayle-Blackburn has lived under the thumb of her stepmother, Queen Levana Blackburn of Luna, for most of her life. She never asked to be a princess, nor did she wish for a beauty that surpasses even Levana’s glamour—without using a glamour of her own. In fact, Winter would like nothing more than to be able to live her life free of fear, and free of the hallucinations that come with not using her Lunar gifts. And her royal guard, Jacin Clay, would love nothing more than to take her away from it all.

But when the rebellion planned by Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Thorne, and Cress arrives on her doorstep, Winter has to decide if risking it all is really the right path to take.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes, Make it Rain

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Winter’s a really lovely girl. She’s had a rough life—yes, even princesses can have crap living situations—and struggles frequently with hallucinations brought on by her unwillingness to use her gift of mental manipulation. But even with the constant fear of harm from Levana and the mental instability, Winter is a strong, determined young woman who knows quite well the difference between right or wrong.

BFF charm holding an umbrella

Winter featured more than just Winter’s POV, however. All of the characters we’ve come to know and love (or know and hate, in certain cases) over the course of the series play major roles in this book (natch). All of these characters, even with their flaws and insecurities and occasionally questionable morals, are the kind of people I’d like to have in my life. They’re loyal, they’re trustworthy, they’re intelligent, they’re caring, they’re sarcastic, they’re humble … I could go on. Even on their worst days, they’re all pretty dang fantastic.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

The various relationships in Winter, many of which began in previous books, were in different stages of development during the story. Some were sweetly consistent, some were adorably new. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of time to focus on the swoon, there being the overthrow of a monarch to carry out and all, Marissa Meyer made sure to give our heroines and heroes time to be with the ones that they love. I totally gleefully giggled on occasion.

Talky Talk: All Aboard

Although Winter added the insights of, well, Winter into the already busy mix of characters, Meyer did so seamlessly, like she’s been a part of the series from the very beginning. And we didn’t just get to hear from her POV in this book—we heard from pretty much everyone. But only rarely did I get confused about whose perspective I was reading; Meyer’s characters are so well crafted and such individuals that it becomes clear very quickly who’s who.

Meyer also wasn’t afraid to be brutal in this book. It is, after all, a depiction of a revolution, and those never stay peaceful for long. But the brutality was believable, even in characters we’d never seen that side of before.

Bonus Factor: Squad Goals

Three young women from The Baby-Sitters Club sit on a bed smiling at each other while one stands at the end looking down

Although they went through a lot in this book’s more than 800 pages, the crew that has built up over the course of 4+ books were always there for each other, as best they could be. They also weren’t afraid to open their arms to new members, even if one of said new members might have had done some questionable things in the past, and another was more than a little crazypants. I would join this squad in a hot second, if they’d have me.

Bonus Factor: Hints of Fairy Tales

Artistic drawing of colorful fairy tale characters all piled together

It’s pretty obvious that the Lunar Chronicles heroines are based on fairy tale heroines, but, thanks to Meyer’s skills, they’re all very much unique characters in their own right. But every now and then, Meyer throws in a bit of their original story into her own, and it’s often disguised just enough that it takes a second for the connection to be made. I can’t imagine how much thought went into planning the whole series to set up these moments so well.

Bonus Factor: Happily Ever Afters

"The End" from Looney Tunes cartoon

Would you expect anything less?

Anti-Bonus Factor: TEABS*

Painting of a woman holding a book lying on a green couch. Called "Decadent young woman. After the dance" by Ramon Casas i Carbó

I’ve been mad about the Lunar Chronicles since practically the first page of Cinder. The action! The adventure! The awesome twists on fairy tale princesses I thought I knew so well! The series only got better and better with each consecutive book, and with each addition of the rest of the crew that made up Cinder’s squad by the end of Winter. To be quite honest, I opened the book with some trepidation. As much as I wanted to see the story to its conclusion, finishing the book meant an end to a series I treasured. And I’m really going to miss looking forward to new stories featuring this crew.

*I couldn’t very well call it TEASS, now could I.

Relationship Status: I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry it in My Heart)

It’s been an absolutely fabulous run, Book, and I want to thank you for all the delight and anxiety and glee you’ve brought me over the course of 4+ books. I’m going to miss our scheduled dates so very much, but hope that we can get together again in the future (frequently?) to wax nostalgic about all of the good times we shared.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought a copy of this book with my own money, and I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Winter is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.