Read The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner Online

The Sisters of the Winter Wood

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, and their Mami into a swan. Perhaps, Liba realizes, the old fairy tales are true. She must guard this secret carefully, even from her beloved sister.Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not the only dangers lurking in the woods...The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be - and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer....

Title : The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780356511436
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 464 pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Sisters of the Winter Wood Reviews

  • Aila

    The Sisters of the Winter Wood is a quiet, captivating tale that follows the growth of two sisters - vastly different from one another - and the secret power that their heritage has passed onto them. I really enjoyed this adult fantasy, and would really recommend it for readers looking for a magical escape into woods that are either enchanted or haunted - take your pick. Rossner writes her Jewish ancestry with heart into these pages, and it is clearly evident within the characters’ actions and b ...more

  • Acqua

    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

  • Lou

    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

  • 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

  • Solomon ~ TheBookishKing

    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

  • Julie

    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."

  • mo

    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

    Although I love Tati’s stories and his answers, I wonder why a small voice is a daughter’s voice. Sometimes I wish my voice could be loud–like a roar. But that is not a modest way to think. The older I get, the more immodest my thoughts become.

    Also, here’s some recommended listening for this review/this book before I really dive into things.

    What makes this book so special? When I really love a book, I always like to ask myself that question. What is it that makes me tick? To me, this book wove magic into each page, gradually building from a small, quiet start into a beautiful ending and illustrating beautiful themes and messages along the way. It takes elements and inspiration from a huge number of fairytales, from Jane Yolen to Goblin Market (which is one of my favorite poems, by the way). In a way, I guess I was bound to enjoy this.

    Also, the characters are great. YAY.




    The majority of the story is told from the perspective of Liba Lieb, a young Chassidic Jewish girl on the cusp of womanhood. She lives on the far edge of her village, or shtetl, along with her sister, mother, and father. While there is a thriving Jewish community there, her family feels ostracized because of her mother’s lineage: she was not born Jewish, but converted to her husband’s faith when they married.

    Liba struggles with things that would be relatable to many: she’s inquisitive but stern, devout but anxious, and often deeply uncomfortable in her own skin. She wants dearly to fall in love and to protect her family. Her development throughout the novel was portrayed beautifully and naturally; I liked that while her faith was very important to her, she grows along with it and strengthens her own will through her faith rather than squashing it down for the sake of piety.


    Laya’s chapters are told in free verse, and as I said earlier, some readers might find it hard to connect with her chapters. I actually did at first, but I ended up finding her chapters a fitting element to the story in the end, especially as more shades of the Goblin Market poem by Christina Rosetti were introduced (also, please go read the original poem – it’s sensual and rich with imagery).

    There are nearly seven of them.

    Men and nearly men…

    They sing and call out

    through the trees,

    a soft and mournful melody.

    Come buy, come buy,

    I hear them cry.

    Laya may have different struggles from her sister, but hers are depicted with no less sympathy and emotion. She chafes under the structure of the religion Liba finds enlightening and has a driving wish to escape from their cloistered life. She wants to flirt and travel, to skip and dance and fly far from her home. She’s also fifteen and discovering her own sense of independence; I liked how her character ultimately fits in with the original Goblin Market one while remaining distinct.

    Other Characters and Elements

    I won’t spoil a very significant thing about Liba and Laya or their parents here – I didn’t know it going into the story, and I think that ideally, other readers should, too. One thing about this element I’m not mentioning does cause body image issues for Liba, but I’ll note it at the very end of my review with the trigger warnings. I also recommend reading Melanie’s review of this novel, as she expounds on Liba’s body image issues far more eloquently than I could.

    As for the side characters:

    The Love Interests

    I won’t spoil these here. While the focus of the story is really on Liba and Laya’s relationship, each sister has their own romance during the course of the story. One of the primary motifs in the novel (besides sisterhood and familial ties) is the girls’ growing awareness of their own sexuality. If you’re at all familiar with the Goblin Market poem, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. 👀

    I do prefer one sister’s romance over the other, as I felt that it was developed more organically and had less of a fated feel to it (so to speak). Even my preferred romance did develop a bit quickly, but for me, it made sense in the context of the story and knowing that the characters had long harbored budding romantic feelings for the other person prior to the start of the novel. The other sister’s romance (or romances) had much more of a fairytale feel in them; I was glad that the novel didn’t really end with a “and they all lived happily-ever-after” type wrap up involving that relationship.

    The Parents and Family

    If I were to complain about anything in this story, it would be that I wish readers got to see more of Liba and Laya’s Tati and Mami and their extended families; they all felt far less well-developed. Rossner makes it work, though, by focusing so intently on the actions and emotions of the two sisters. Honestly, as someone with a younger sister, I felt that Rossner did a wonderful job of depicting a complex and sometimes difficult – but ultimately loving – relationship between sisters.

    I know that nothing between us will ever be the same again. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s the way things are meant to be. We are always changing, like the moon.


    Themes and Historical Context

    The author, Rena Rossner, drew from her own family history in writing this story. While there are fantastical elements, there’s also the real-world parallels: her own family left Ukraine as a result of pogroms in and around Dubossary, which Rossner fictionalizes slightly to create her setting. She writes eloquently in the author’s note about how false accusations of blood libel (that Jews used blood from deceased non-Jews to make matza) and other anti-Semitic, racist rhetoric motivated many pogroms across Ukraine, devastating many Jewish communities.

    One of the main themes of The Sisters of the Winter Wood, at least as I read it, was the idea of “othering” and the harm that can do to people. A murder mystery plays out along the backdrop of the novel’s plot, and with its heightened tension comes increased anti-Semitism from Laya and Liba’s non-Jewish neighbors. The author does not expect the sisters to “solve” anti-Semitism on their own (which would be a huge and unfair burden to place on two marginalized young women); rather, they gain strength through fellowship in their shtetl community and the support of their Mami’s extended (non-Jewish) family.

    Also at the end of the author’s note is this passage: “I was very inspired by the sensuality of [various fairytales] and also the sensuality of Goblin Market, and was determined to write something that contained this element. As a great lover of fantasy and history, I have also always been seeking a way to combine the two and to delve more into my own Russian/Romanian/Moldovian/Ukrainian heritage.” I think she accomplished those goals with grace and artistry, all while deftly blending in her Jewish heritage and developing vivid characters.


    Content warnings: antisemitism (always challenged), body image issues (very prominent on Liba’s part, including thoughts of dieting, but she ultimately gets to a much better place with how she feels about it without losing weight or dieting), captivity, violence, drugging, grey area consent (not depicted positively), misogynistic comments, talk of past rape, death, torture.


    Thanks to Edelweiss and Redhook for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are taken from a pre-release copy and may be subject to change in the final published version.


    What did you think about this book, if you’ve read it?

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  • ♡ Kayleigh ⚯͛  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 sid ...more