The Winter Boy, by Sally Wiener Grotta, is an epic novel. It is so well written that every page is worthy of high praise. The story takes place in an otherworld known as the Valley of the Alleshi and it is run by women who devote themselves to protecting the Peace and to training chosen young boys to become Alemen, men who will honor and protect the Peace. In addition, the boys are taught to develop their skills, awareness and perceptions. The training occurs during “Seasons”. Rishana is a new Allesha and her first Season is in winter and her first “boy”, Ryl, is described as a “problem boy”. However, he is much more than that. The time they spend together goes through several stages and the author describes the process with impeccable detail. Over time a fascinating relationship develops.
The women of the Valley of the Alleshi have a complex society which is supposedly based on mutual trust, cooperation, respect and communication. The story is like an adventure with tension building slowly. The frailties and fissures of a seemingly solid society are revealed by using beautiful prose. All is not as it seems in this highly structured world that Rishana thought she knew and understood. There are secrets, deceit and treachery and their very existence is threatened. Has Rishana taught Ryl well enough to be the Aleman he needs to be to face an uncertain and possibly perilous future? What will her future be?
This is book is a masterpiece and it is a true accomplishment, as well. The author brings to the reader a meaningful story placed in a rich setting which is populated with masterfully developed characters who have intriguing relationships. This is a novel worth reading.
I received this book free of charge from Pixel Hall Press and I give this review of my own free will.