Winter's End

Winter's End

4.0 12
by Jean-Claude Mourlevat, Anthea Bell

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In a gripping dystopian novel, four teenagers risk impossible odds to fight against tyranny in a world of dangerous choices — and reemerging hope.

Escape. Milena, Bartolomeo, Helen, and Milos have left their prison-like boarding schools far behind, but their futures remain in peril. Fleeing across icy mountains from a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to


In a gripping dystopian novel, four teenagers risk impossible odds to fight against tyranny in a world of dangerous choices — and reemerging hope.

Escape. Milena, Bartolomeo, Helen, and Milos have left their prison-like boarding schools far behind, but their futures remain in peril. Fleeing across icy mountains from a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to hunt them down, they are determined to take up the fight against the despotic government that murdered their parents years before. Only three will make it safely to the secret headquarters of the resistance movement. The fourth is captured and forced to participate in a barbaric game for the amusement of the masses — further proof of the government’s horrible brutality. Will the power of one voice be enough to rouse a people against a generation of cruelty? Translated from the French, this suspenseful story of courage, individualism, and freedom has resonated with young readers across the globe.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Ann Reddy Damon
In this hero's journey, Helen Dormann receives the call when her friend Milena, remarkable for her beautiful voice, goes missing from the strict all girls' boarding school. Milos from the boys' school safely guides Helen passed the gates because he "never gets caught." In her quest to find her friend, she must cross the mountain, escape the police and the dog-men hunters on the same trail, and find a doctor when Milos gets hurt. Ultimately she learns she must join the Resistance to the Phalange, the evil power structure that usurped control fifteen years ago and killed her parents. Although the action is fast, the story is unconvincing. The Phalange is ill-defined except for being evil, and the dog-men, when released from their trainers and escape, are never heard from again. The plot, filled with multiple narratives, is too coincidental. Milena's mother, Eva, is the voice of freedom against the Phalange, and of course, Melina must sing the rallying song. Likewise, Milena's lover Bartolomeo walks in the same leadership role as his father. Finally when the brave countrymen armed with clubs and shields are gunned down crossing the bridge to reclaim their city, the Phalange simply turn away when Milena joins with her lover and walks across unscathed. The resolutions are too predictable and swift. This book may appeal to those studying archetypal criticism, but the plot, although fast paced, is unsophisticated. Reviewer: Ann Reddy Damon
Publishers Weekly
Mourlevat (The Pull of the Ocean) tells a riveting dystopian tale set in an unnamed country. Life is grim and austere for the children of resistors, whose parents lost their lives during a bloody revolution. They reside in prisonlike boarding schools and are allowed to leave the grounds only a few hours a year to be comforted by their consolers, parent figures assigned to be their counselors. When teenagers Milena, Helen, Bartolomeo and Milos run away from their neighboring schools, they not only put themselves in danger but also threaten the safety of classmates, who incur punishments in their place, and their consolers, who aid in their escape. Tracing the tense cat-and-mouse chase between the young fugitives and the vicious authorities (who track them with man-dog hybrids), the story unveils secrets about characters' histories and the bonds that tie them together. Teeming with heroic acts, heartbreaking instances of sacrifice and intriguing characters—such as the horse-men, a tribe of gentle giants willing to fight to the death for their masters—the book will keep readers absorbed and set imaginations spinning. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
This is a gripping tale that I wish I had been able to read in French. The translation probably captures the dark mood of the story accurately, but I wish my French was good enough not to need a translation. Helen and her friend Milena are in a boarding school for orphan girls, a school which feels much more like a prison. They are allowed off the school grounds only in pairs and then only two or three times a year to see their "consolers." While on such an outing the girls meet two boys from the orphan boys' boarding school: Milos and Bartolomeo (Bart). Helen visits her consoler and Milena supposedly waits in the library, but when Helen comes back for her, Milena is gone. She has run off with Bart. A few days later Helen and Milos run off, trying to find their friends. It turns out that all the orphanage children are the sons and daughters of resistance fighters who were murdered during an uprising fifteen years earlier. They are hunted by special soldiers of the oppressive government and creatures which are half dog and half human. As they continue on their trek to freedom, the teens learn about their parents from villagers; and they learn they have roles to play in overthrowing the wretched government that brutalizes their country. There is a mythical feel to the story, with the dog-men and cart-horse people, so it is hard to tell when it takes place. It is an allegory against war and oppression in general and very well written. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In a dystopian world, an oppressive revolutionary group has taken over. Four teenagers escape the "boarding school" where they have been held since their parents were murdered 15 years earlier for being part of the Resistance. Milena and Bartolomeo become romantically involved and run away together, as do Helen and Milos, separate from the other two. Ultimately, Helen, Milena, and Bartolomeo are reunited in the capital city where they find work at a restaurant doubling as a front for the Resistance movement. However, Milos is imprisoned and sent to a training camp from which he will be forced to compete in one-on-one, barbaric arena fights to the death. As a translation from the French, this book is successful, with only occasional minor awkward moments that do not detract from the story's compelling setting, mood, and tone. Most characters are adequately drawn but some disappear and never return. For example, fierce dog-men are carefully introduced, kill a man, run off to the mountains, and vanish. Also, a few circumstances stretch belief, such as the teens riding buses without being recaptured. Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009, both Scholastic) and John Marsden's "Tomorrow" series (Houghton) are stronger books.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Growing up in a dystopian society reminiscent of mid-20th-century Europe, four teens move from darkness and despair to light and hope as they pursue freedom. Best friends in their repressive boarding school, 17-year-old Helen and Milena bond instantly with Milos and Bart from the neighboring boys' school. Together Milena and Bart escape, tracked by dog-men trained to kill. When they discover their parents were assassinated as Resistance leaders 15 years earlier during the Phalange's brutal coup d'etat, Milena and Bart vow to return and fight rather than flee. Finding refuge in the resurging Resistance, Milena inspires all with her beautiful voice while Bart rallies horse-men as allies. After Milos is held captive in a gladiator training camp, Helen joins the heroic uprising hoping to find him before it's too late. With its ironic twists and moral dilemmas, the action-packed plot darts from one protagonist to another with compelling urgency. Bell's fluid translation captures the peril, power and pathos of this truly epic drama in which four young heroes taste love, camaraderie, grief and triumph. Bravo! (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Jean-Claude Mourlevat once wrote and directed burlesque shows for adults and children, which were performed for more than ten years in France and abroad. The author of several children’s books, he lives in a house overhanging the River Loire, near Saint-Etienne, France.

Anthea Bell is an award-winning translator of French and German fi ction, including the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. She lives near Cambridge, England.

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Winter's End 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
LeroyMcDoogle More than 1 year ago
Reading the book Winter's End was about as disappointing as watching a Chicago Cubs baseball season. In the beginning you are hopeful and things look promising, then as it progress things begin to slide downhill. Finally, all hope is lost as it reaches the miserable conclusion. The book started off promising enough, an interesting plot, dynamic characters, and an intruding setting made it seem like it had the makings of a best- seller. The sinister government and the bleak landscape set up a perfect scene for a revolution, but when the key parts of the story came it just fell short. The rising action was very good, I myself was drawn in as the gladiator fights began, but the climax happened so fast, and the book ended so quickly that I assumed the author must have suffered from terrible accident that impaired his ability to finish the book. But no, Jean- Claude Mourlevat is fine; he simply lacks the skills to write a strong conclusion. It is a shame because the book was building up so nicely too. One moment I'm reading about Milos fighting for his life, but a moment later the good guys have broken in, defeated the bad, and ended the story. Overall the plot wasn't bad and the characters were downright good, but such a poor conclusion ruined the overall effect and thus the story.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Several years ago there was a political coup and the Phalangist took over. A group of children were sent off to incredibly strict boarding school so the government could keep an eye on them. Four of these children have managed to escape their boarding schools and are making a run to join the new revolution to overthrow the Phalange. These four children each have their own role to play as they find out more of their past, their parents, and why they have been locked up at school for so long. A very interesting look at the world, but the characters were a little stagnant. They did adapt and learn new things, but it always seemed to be with the same attitude. 3/5
Christalina_Stuart More than 1 year ago
Winter's end was a good read and it had its good moments. It wasn't the most interesting book i have ever read but it was still an okay read. I suggest it for just a quick read on the bus or waiting for something or some one. I thought that the characters were pretty good. I liked how the ending came about, how it wasn't a horrible disasterous ending. I think it was nice and quick.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author wrote about such an interesting world, yet I felt like the book went too fast. It was as if more needed to be written or the writer needed to make this book into a series. I also thought that the author could have written more about certain events and what was going on in more detail. The ending was quick and failed my expectations. I thought the climax of the novel would be better than it was. However I loved the characters and the interesting world that the author wrote about. All together it's a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Four students - Helen, Milena, Milos, and Bart - have run away from their respective prison-like boarding schools. Each of the four have something in common; their parents were all murdered fifteen years ago, which is why they are in these schools to begin with. But only three of the teens make it to Jahn's restaurant, the headquarters of the Phalange resistance movement. The fourth is captured and forced into playing a barbaric game. If he doesn't play, he'll die. Can one voice stir a change of the brutal ways of the government? This novel was brilliant. I loved every moment of it. There was never a dull moment. This book was fast-paced and kept me wanting more until there was no more left to read. My only disappointment was the Epilogue, but only because it didn't explain much about Helen, so I was somewhat confused after reading it. Various parts of the novel seemed awful. Not bad awful, just awful. I couldn't believe how adults could be so rude to teens, just because of their parents! All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot. It wasn't the type of story I normally read, but I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it is easily one of my favorite books ! I was so excited to read it every time i picked it up !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The end is really depressing, though, but as long as its strong. I reccomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is AMAZING! I'm not sure why it isn't that popular...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I have already recomended it to lots of friends and they all LOVED it
ac-bookish More than 1 year ago
I never even get to the middle of the book before I set it right back down. The characters are hardly introduced and there isn't any build up to the first main event. She author throws you in to the middle of a story tells you some names and then keeps things moving with predictable and dull 'surprises'. The story had a lot of potential as far as the plot goes but unfortunately her switching back and fourth from different character views were confusing and hurried. I wouldn't recommend it.