#ReadIntl2020 Award-Winning Books Features Genre International Lifespan of a Reader Saturday Reads Speculative Fiction, Scifi, Fantasy

[Saturday Reads] International Fantasy Series From France

"A Winter's Promise" (Book One) and "The Missing Of Clairdelune" (Book Two) by Christelle Dabos, translated by Hildegarde Serle.


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

A Winter’s Promise [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Christelle Dabos Translated by Hildegarde Serle
Published by Europa Editions (2018, first published 2013)
ISBN: 2070653765 (ISBN13: 9782070653768) Original Title: Les Fiancés de l’hiver Literary Awards: Prix Elbakin.net for Meilleur roman fantasy français Jeunesse (2014), RTL y Télérama (2013), Concours du premier roman jeunesse organisé par Gallimard Jeunesse, Prix Ados Rennes Ille-et-Vilaine Nominee (2015). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

The Missing Of Clairdelune [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Christelle Dabos Translated by Hildegarde Serle
Published by Europa Editions (2019, first published 2015)
ISBN: 160945507X (ISBN13: 9781609455071). Literary Award: Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Roman francophone pour la jeunesse (2016). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I have been meaning to feature these books for quite awhile now. I read the first book in this series last year when I first arrived here in the UAE, and the world building has comforted me, and made me feel right at home in our new residence (for some strange reason, books manage to do that to me). I read the second book just a few weeks ago (there was a full year interval between the two books), mainly because I knew the third book would only be released this year, and the fourth one most likely late next year.

If I were to go back to some of my initial thoughts about the first book, thanks to Litsy I am able to effectively recapture them, see here:

As can be seen here, what I particularly enjoyed about this fantasy series is not so much the world-building (although I did find it to have its own voice and peculiarity that I personally found appealing), but how the characters grow on the reader. Ophelia, in particular, is not your usual svelte, annoyingly-attractive, super-smart but reluctant protagonist. She is described to be plain, nondescript even, fairly clumsy, but with an assured sense of who she is – flying scarf, broken glasses and all.

Her fiance, the brooding and perfectly unreachable Thorn, pretty similar in traits and characteristics to the regular-world-Viking, also struck me as somewhat interesting. While I found the development to their romance in Book 2 as lacking in credibility and somewhat abrupt – he managed to be consistent and somewhat predictable (not always a good thing). I enjoyed the side characters in the story, and found them to be entertaining, particularly the man who loves romancing married women, and wooing Ophelia precisely because she is engaged to another man (there has to be the inevitable YA love triangle even in an international fantasy series, cue eyeroll here).

Reading some of the reviews written about these books, however, has made me attuned to the fact that there is absolutely no representation of Brown or Black people; no mention of race or ethnicity (one may argue that fantasy precludes a mention of skin colour, I am really not sure about this), but then again, one need not assume that they do not exist – a great deal depends on how one imagines the characters. That being said, it was a pleasant experience escaping into this world of arks, mirror-visitors, animists, and ancient gods and mortals. I am avidly looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: Christelle Dabos is fromFrance. Translated from the French.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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