Fiction Book Reviews

Fairy Tale | The Sisters of the Winter Wood | Rena Rossner

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The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner is a re-telling of the poem Goblin Market.  But more than that, there is also a personal reason why Rena Rossner was inspired to write her debut.  I’m sharing my thoughts with you today.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood Rena Rossner

Every family has a secret . . . and every secret tells a story. 

In a remote village surrounded by forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their small village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realise the old fairy tales are true . . . and could save them all.

Captivating and boldly imaginative, Rena Rossner’s debut invites you to enter a magical world of secrets, family ties and fairy tales weaving through history. Perfect for fans of The Bear and the NightingaleUprooted and The Night Circus.

Published by Orbit and available to purchase in digital, hardcover, paperback and audiobook formats.


Like all the best fairy tales, The Sisters of the Winter Wood take us on a journey through the darker side of life.

Sisters Liba and Laya have been left in their cottage on the edge of the forest while their mother and father travel to reclaim all that they’ve lost.  Their mother is fed up of the life they’re living which has been forced on them (their father is Jewish and their mother Ukranian).  Before they leave for Kupel, Liba hears something she shouldn’t…

Not only left to fend for themselves, the sisters have to come to terms with the family secret as well as experiencing the first heady feelings of falling in love.  Things become even more complicated when the strangers appear in the market place, selling their fruit and appearing to capture hearts.  It’s hard enough being on the cusp of moving from childhood to becoming a woman, add in the mix the family secret and emotions become even more complex.  Liba’s very real fear of not knowing what to do without a guiding hand is palpable.

Rena Rossner’s writing style is fitting for a fairy tale, evoking darkness and light (and all the shades in-between).  The setting is perfect and scenes in the cottage, the forest and the market place had me right there beside the characters. 

There’s so much I enjoyed in this story, feeling caught up in what was happening.  However there were times when I felt uncomfortable too.  Often people only look at the label of a religion and not who the person really is.  They lack any understanding of traditions.  This is portrayed so well in this story.  It’s not until you get to the author’s note at the end of the story that you understand the deeper meaning of the prejudice and persecution.  I think Rena Rossner can be proud of what she has achieved, winding this reality through her re-telling of the Goblin Market.

If you enjoy a fairy tale, I recommend you add The Sisters of the Winter Wood to your list.  You won’t be disappointed.

Connect with Rena Rossner


Twitter @renarossner

Book Reviews on Jera’s Jamboree.

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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