Young Adult Fantasy, The Girl From Shadow Springs (released 2/21) is the debut novel by author Ellie Cypher. Crossing the Flats is considered a death sentence by the people living in Shadow Springs. But for Jorie, scavenging off the dead provides a living that keeps food on the table. Without it, she and her sister Brenna would never survive the harsh conditions of the never-ending winter storm swirling around them.
When Jorie picks the wrong, dead man to scavenge from, however, his enemy is soon at her door. Kidnapping Brenna as collateral, he demands she return what is rightfully his or lose her sister forever. A mysterious boy in town becomes Jorie’s only source of information and hope, and she must rely on him if she’s ever to see her sister again.
But things begin to happen as they cross the dangers of the ice, and it’s not long before they face their biggest fight yet. But will Jorie make it to her sister in time, or will the nightmares swallow her whole?
“Vydra don’t exist, except in children’s stories and snow-fever dreams. Nocna Mora isn’t some great hiding place built atop a lost city of gold. Nothing left out there but desperate men telling desperate tales.”
Since Ellie Cypher is a relatively unknown author, I decided to read some of her interviews, get a better idea of why she wrote this book and what it means to her. I love her message and what she wants readers to take away from her story:
“Hope. That no matter the odds, no matter how bleak the world around you may seem, no matter how you have been treated or how hard you have had to become that there is always hope.”
This is a different type of YA Fantasy than I would normally gravitate to, but I’m happy I went out of my comfort zone and gave it a shot. While the entire story is built off the premise of an Ice-Witch, mythical black wolves, and a never-ending winter, Jorie is just an ordinary girl trying to survive. However, the trials she has to face are anything but. The author did a nice job creating a strong female lead, inspiring to read, while weaving in some memorable characters to support her in the journey to rescue her sister.
This brings me to the first location of importance: The Ice Flats
“Only idiots tried to cross the Ice Flats. The only thing out this way was the cold. And hunger. And death. A boundary between life and death. “
Could you imagine living in a winter that never ends? Our social life would be limited; we would be trapped indoors, forced to fight over food and supplies. Hmm, maybe we have been living some version of this over the past year!
When Brenna is taken, Jorie has to rely on a team of sled dogs and a stranger to carry her across the flats. It’s a rescue mission that is doomed to fail, but with love pushing her on, Jorie might just be the one person Bren can count on most.
This brings me to the Second location of importance: Ice Cave
“Only real monsters I know about out here, Cody Colburn, are men.”
Right from the start, the author provides small details that somehow I knew were going to be important. It wasn’t until about halfway through, however, that these nuggets of information suddenly became relevant. At this point, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the story came together. A few more pages, and I might have called it one and unfortunately moved on.
I only say this because, in my opinion, once you make it past this hump, the story picks up and becomes more enjoyable. Stick with it!
The reveals in this story are unexpected, which I love. Many books are boringly predictable, and I appreciate some imagination and thought being crafting a solid arc. The Ice Caves prove to be a turning point for Jorie and Cody. It’s unexpected and starts them down a path they didn’t expect or believe could happen.