A grownup fairy tale that weaves together historical family troubles with Russian folklore and magic. The pacing is a little slow to begin with, and there are lots of Russian words to stumble over, but the magic is very readable, and the atmosphere Arden creates means you can palpably feel the fear and suspicion rattling around the ancient Russian village, as well as the bitter cold of the winter that threatens to destroy everyone.
'Please, winter-king,' Dunya said humbly, clenching her hands together. 'Another year. One more sun-season; she will grow strong with rain and sunlight. I will not - I cannot - give my girl to Winter now.'
Laughter suddenly boomed from the undergrowth: old, slow laughter. Suddenly it seemed to Dunya that the moonlight shone through the frost-demon, that he was nothing but a trick of light and shadow.
But then he was a real man again, with weight and shape and form. His head was turned away, scanning the undergrowth. When he turned back to Dunya, his face was grim.
'You know her best,' he said. 'And I cannot take her unready; she will die. Another year, then. Against my judgment.'