THE COLD IS IN HER BONES by Peternelle van Arsdale
Updated: Jul 13
I was really looking forward to this book. Advertised as a kind of Medusa retelling, I was all for it. Also, the cover is gorgeous. Look at those beautiful snakes! And the cover has a sheen to it in the light that pictures just can't do justice.
Alas, the book was not as good as the cover or premise made it seem. I know everyone says books are not their covers, but I really wish this one was. It would have made the book a lot better I think if it reflected the stunning cover better. That being said, the cover does match the book's plot. From the multicolored snakes to the wasp at the bottom, everything is included in the book.
Plot: The Cold is in Her Bones just moved way too fast. There were not enough pages to flesh out... anything really. I would have loved to have a deeper look at the time period, the magic system and demons, the reach of the curse. Everything needed more time it felt like.
And, sometimes, things were just plain confusing and seemingly thrown in for no reason. Take, for example, Hel, the witch we meet towards the end of the story. She really just felt like she was thrown in as a kind of get-out-of-jail-free kind of character, like the Peternelle van Arsdale just didn't know how to move the story forward from the corner they had written themselves into. We meet Hel once, she serves her purpose, and then we never see her again. She was literally just a badly thought-out plot device. She wasn't even a character.
That all being said, I did love the themes of family and forgiveness. I loved the parallels between Milla and Hulda. I loved the relationship between Milla and Iris, though it was as rushed as everything else. However, all that wasn't enough to make me really like this book.
Characters: Milla: Milla is the main character. That's... really it? She tries so hard to be a good girl for her family, but really just wants to be free from the suffocating lifestyle she has been forced into. She is also cursed by Hulda, as are most of the girls in the village. But Milla's curse is a little different, as she has a different relation to Hulda, the curse-giver. She loves her brother, Niklas, and her sister-by-choice, Iris, and this love is what drives the story forward.
Hulda: Hulda is the focus of the prologue and what gets the story going. I felt really bad for Hulda. I wanted more on her and less on Milla, to be honest. I would have loved if the story focused on Hulda and her sister instead of Milla. It would have been an interesting twist to the tale, to learn forgiveness not through a mediator but through time maybe an apology from her sister not prompted by Milla. Hulda is a "strange" child and is really in-tune with nature, specifically snakes. This eventually leads to her being called "demon-possessed" and basically tortured. This is what sets the story into motion.
In the end, this book just wasn't for me. I didn't dislike it exactly, but it definitely wasn't a favorite of mine. I'm giving it three stars because it wasn't bad. It just wasn't good either.