The Winter King by Christine Cohen is a suspenseful story that has great themes and lessons throughout the book. Cora lives with her mother and siblings in a village that is cursed with a harsh winter each year based on a story that has been passed down for generations. Cora and her family have been banished to the edge of the village because her father died and her family is considered cursed. Cora must work hard to provide for her family, but she also feels the pain of being treated unfairly. This sends her on a search for truth. Her search for truth leads her to learn to read and reading opens her eyes to the lies the villagers have been told for years. Cora's journey and persistence to find truth is encouraging, but also suspenseful. In the end, her willingness to forgive and her hope for something better save her.
The themes in this book are: family, "religion" vs truth, uncovering truth, forgiveness, and hope. Cora faces her challenges head on and never gives up, which is a great metaphor for our walk with Christ. Cora struggles with her faith, but in the end, her faith comes out stronger. We all face hardships and struggles in our life, but we want our faith to be in the One who can carry us through it all. I love that forgiveness is such a big part of what saves Cora.
As Cora faces hard times in her life and fights to overcome, there are some things that happen in the book that may require deeper discussion or may result in questions. There is some suspense and slight violence in the story, but all does end well. There are suspenseful moments throughout the book that make it hard to put down at times. There are some boy/girl relationship scenes. Nothing inappropriate happens, but she is old enough to be engaged in her village. There is also a death in the family. Her dad dies before the book begins, but there is a sickness in the village that causes another death in her family and other families in the village.
I love this book! I think the way Cora handles what life has dealt her and her family is somethings we can all learn from. I highly recommend reading The Winter King and know your preteen will also love it!