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3.6 21
by Jenna Burtenshaw

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The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is


The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.

Albion is at war . . . and losing.

The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.

And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.

As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.

Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this somewhat overwritten but nonetheless gripping first volume of the Secrets of Wintercraft, 15-year-old Kate Winters has lost her parents to the wardens who patrol the benighted land of Albion, drafting conscripts for a never-ending war with the Continent. Living quietly in her uncle's bookshop, Kate is unaware of her magical lineage as one of the Skilled. Her life changes, however, when the wardens, led by the powerful and immortal Silas Dane, a minion of High Council member Lady Da'ru, attempts to capture her. Da'ru seeks Wintercraft, a magical tome that has passed down through the Winters family for generations. Many of the Skilled have died at Da'ru's hands as she has sought control of the book's magic and, as Silas tells Kate, Da'ru and her fellow councilors "will keep experimenting on the Skilled, taking the lives of innocent people.... They will keep failing and they will try again, and everyone else will pay the price." Debut novelist Burtenshaw's tale is melodramatic and overly reliant upon coincidence, but her characters are compelling and her descriptions of the death-besotted society of Albion have genuine power. Ages 12–up. (July)
The Times (London)
“Jenna Burtenshaw’s debut comes as a breath of fresh air.”
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Kate Winters has led a relatively small life, helping to run her family's bookstore, but that is all about to change. Albion, the island nation she calls home, has descended over recent centuries from a center of enlightenment and cooperation, to a country at war with everyone, including its own people. Driving this decline is the High Council, headquartered in the former city of the dead, Fume. Their insatiable thirst for power has extended beyond the material and political realms into a quest for control of the dead. Council member Da'ru has experimented crossing into "the Veil" and created Silas Dane—alive but soulless—the High Council's chief "collector." And Silas is leaving no stone unturned in seeking to find the wisdom of the ancients contained in the book "Wintercraft" as well as any descendants of the Winters' family who might have inherited their unique powers. When the Council's Wardens invade Kate's hometown of Morvane to "harvest" the citizenry for fighting their wars, her uncle Artemis stashes Kate and her friend Edgar in a secret hiding place in the basement of the bookstore's cellar. But Artemis is captured, as eventually are Kate and Edgar; they are locked in cages and loaded on the Night Train to Fume. Kate must come to terms with her heretofore unknown powers if she is to survive and rescue her uncle and friend. Although characters are unevenly developed—Silas is more complex than Kate herself—the relationships between characters create dramatic tension. There is plenty to intrigue lovers of fantasy, and the foundation is clearly laid for a sequel. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Ten years after the last time the wardens came through their town and stole away everyone who might be useful in the war, including her parents, 14-year-old Kate Winters lives with her uncle running the family bookstore. Now rumors arise that the wardens are again on the move. Before they have a chance to escape, it is discovered that Kate is the last of her family who holds the power of the Skilled, making her a prime target for the wardens. Unfortunately, the heroine has power but little savvy, and her willingness to be influenced by friend and foe alike doesn't win her much reader sympathy. Silas, the villain, is easily the most interesting character and isn't well utilized. The opening chapter, with all its dark creepiness, is the best part of the novel, but long, meandering descriptive passages and lackluster dialogue don't live up to a promising beginning. Skip this one and recommend John Flanagan's "Ranger's Apprentice" (Philomel) or Tamora Pierce's "Beka Cooper" series (Random).—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews

This lackluster debut combines familiar elements into a tale neither rare nor wonderful, despite some acclaim in its native Britain.

The formula is simple: war-torn country, power-mad leader (one of 13, technically), young person with unexpected powers who might be the answer to everything. But heroine Kate Winters never shows much pluck: She may wield significant power, though generally with little sense of how, and spends most of her time listening to other characters spout lengthy exposition. There is no purpose to power-mad leader Da'ru beyond her hunger for control. And although graveyard/city Fume is fascinating and the magic of Fume (bonemen, magical locks powered by spirits) hints at great powers of invention, Albion as a whole remains unknowable. What is the war, and why? How, in this pre-industrialized world with no commercial ties to "the continent," does a bookstore make for a viable living? Enigmatic, deathless Silas Dane comes across as the most nuanced of the characters, and his cold alliance with Kate is the heart of the novel, but Kate's narrative perspective keeps him at a distance.

Mediocre, but flashes of inspiration indicate Burtenshaw's potential, as yet untapped.(Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Secrets of Wintercraft , #1
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Sales rank:
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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Meet the Author

Jenna Burtenshaw has been writing since she was a child, and she divides her time between her writing, her dogs, and her rescue rabbits. She is the author of Shadowcry and Blackwatch. She lives in England.

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Shadowcry 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Unwasted_Words More than 1 year ago
You would think that being able to bring a bird back to life would be a good thing. For Kate that life could be the death of her. Kate Winters has been living a quiet life in her small town with her uncle Artemis, content as the village booksellers. But their sleepy little town is overdue for a visit from the harvesters, wardens from the city of Fume who abduct people and sell them as servants and soldiers for the war front. The most hunted and prized prisoners are the Skilled, humans with the ability to see into the veil, the world between worlds. The Skilled also possess powers to heal and see the future. Unfortunately for Kate she comes from a long and distinguished line of Skilled, and some very dangerous people know it. They will stop at nothing to capture and harness her power for their own agendas. I found Shadowcry a bit of a drag. It literally had no life to carry you through the plot development and world building. I forced myself to finish it. For me there was nothing really to latch onto. The characters seemed to bumble through the story, Kate was too naive, too stubborn, not at all clever, or interesting to be likeable. Well she might be interesting but the author didn't really elaborate on her character or much of any other. Edgar her not-so romantic lead seemed sweet with his bungled attempts to save Kate, but there were so many gaps in his description I'm not even sure what he looks like or if he's a brave, or a fool, he comes off less as a hero and more of a contradiction. I like Artemis for a moment, but then the author makes a point of casting him as a coward and close-minded, and not worth saving, which makes Kate look dumb for doing the right thing. I get that she wanted to create flawed characters, but those flaws only work if the people are endearing. The bad guys Silas and Da'ru were more fleshed out. Silas most of all, since his situation was more interesting than most being not quite alive yet unable to die. But these are the villains and I don't want to get to know them better than the heroine. The pet crow should not be my favorite character, which (sadly) it is. Overall I found the cast annoying. Shadowcry made me want to cry. The concept was promising, I thought it was going to be a twist on necromancy, but with an overly imagined world and underly developed characters the book falls flat. It was written well, but becoming immersed in such a dark and dreary world with no romance or interesting personalities to add color and life to the story it turned out bland, especially when a majority of the action happens in the last two chapters. Those Who Still Wish to See the Dark, Be Ready to Pay Your Price. In Boredom.
terilhack More than 1 year ago
Shadowcry is an amazingly fresh new read that will be released this year by author Jenna Burtenshaw. What I find so amazing in this book is that the concept of the storyline is like none other that I have read yet this year, and the characters are so secretive and yet so amazing. Shadowcry takes us into a future that is dark and riddled with power and corruption. The populous is in a state of repressed fear from the tyranny of the capitol city. Sending teams of wardens out to collect workers from the main population the city basically creates a constant flow of slavery while all the time "harvesting" the select few of the Skilled, people with Talent, hidden among them. The Skilled are people with special inborn talents that the leaders of the cities want to use and produce as weapons towards their constant wars with each other. The story centers around our main character, Kate Winters, and the abrupt introduction to her talent during a harvesting that changes her world forever. We are introduced to several amazing characters throughout the story as Kate finds her way through her past and into her growing powers and their implications in the use towards the wardens' plans. One of the secondary characters that I was fascinated with was Silas Dane. Carrying a heavy curse brought about from a lifetime of suffering and slavey and magical testing Silas really carried the story for me. His dialog, and personal motive justification, and application was just a great and integral part to the story. I loved Silas as a character and with the way he worked, it really added that extra element that made the book so much more impactful for me to read. If you are looking for a book that carries many amazing elements and that has a spectacular plot with many twists and turns, then Shadowcry will be a fantastic read. Dystopian intrigue and action, yep. A hint of romance, gotcha. But most of all if you are looking for something that carries many of the elements in YA and then a lot more and a variety of greatness, then I encourage you to pick up Shadowcry. You will not be disappointed.
GhostWriter94 More than 1 year ago
I found Shadowcry online and bought it the minute it came out. I went on vacation and decided to bring it along, thinking it would be an interesting read. It was, except for one thing. . . . . The main character Kate Winters needs to grow a spine; I've never seen a character that gets walked on so often. She can't pick a fight, she can't fight back, and she always turns into a damsel in distress. Reading this book was entertaining but everytime Kate did something halfminded or. . . .submissive, I wanted to literally reach into the book and punch her. Which was often. I only say this because of my stance as a feminist but if it were me writing this, I'd give my female character something to be proud of: a strong fist, a whitty tongue, a quick mind and the common sense to think fast and fight back without having to rely on someone else to do the saving. It's about time the prince charmings took a break and let the princesses run the show. Anyway, rambling besides, I thought the story was interesting, the villians complexing but at the same time the protagonist was bland, the development was poor, and the "supposed" love interest (I say "supposed" because of the lack of chemistry between them) was barely there. Will I read the sequel (if there is one). . . .yeah I guess. Will I fall in love with the book. . . .probably not. But it's a book and I'll read just about anything to spare a couple of hours.
Asahane More than 1 year ago
Every character in this story had their own motivation, their own agenda, and they firmly stuck to that. No character ever wavered in their conviction, which I found immensely satisfying. The beginning is a bit confusing to wade through with all the information being thrown at you, but this book is completely worth it (and of course it gets easier as you get further and further into it).
Sensitivemuse 9 months ago
The story was pretty interesting and had a neat concept with the “Skilled”. I also liked the setting with the Graveyard city. So this is what rather kept me going for a bit while reading. The magic system itself was interesting and somewhat different from what I’ve read in the past. That kept the flow of reading along. Somewhat. The world building was alright although I wanted more detail and more explanation. What type of world was this? Yes it’s got magic in it but am I looking at fantasy with a Graveyard city? Is it a steampunk setting? What am I looking at here? Now let’s move onto the characters. Out of all of them, Silas even though he was pretty much your typical villain, was actually the most interesting. Even though he was the most interesting though, he wasn’t really that likable (understandably so, he’s a villain BUT I always root for the bad guy). He wasn’t really part of the “cool bad guy” crowd I suppose for lack of a better explanation. Edgar, who is Kate’s friend, meh. Not sure if I really liked him. He was a wuss. Sure, he had some few good moments. Otherwise though he just wasn’t that great at all. Kate was okay. She was a typical strong girl character you see in most YA novels like these. In summary though, I’d have to say these characters in the book are ho hum. There’s not much feeling to them, they’re not likable, and they’re just...blah. Because of this and the lack of world building I just didn’t feel that much into the book and didn’t grab my attention. Sure, there were good points in the book but it just wasn’t quite enough to get me into the book like some others have. I’m not sure I’m going to go further into the series. I’d say take it or leave it with this one. I’ve seen other reviews where some have really enjoyed the book. Unfortunately much as I wanted to, I didn’t so much.
DezzieRM More than 1 year ago
Shadowcry is one of the most boring books I have had to read.  The girl in the book, Kate, is beyond ignorant.  She claims to want to save her uncle but even after Silas tells her "you will be safe for as long as I need you" and when she talked about family he responds, "I know nothing about that" she still finds and gives him the book.  She tells her uncle finding the book will give them their freedom when Silas gave no such promise - why would she say this when Silas told her the opposite?  The book does not make sense.  And after that answer, all she could think about was how he expected her to find the book instead of - "he just told me when he doesn't need me I will no longer be safe."  The plot is confusing and so slow moving as to be painful.  I had to finish this book because I was previewing it for our library.  I do not recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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What i liked about this book was there was action the whole time. I wish Kate was a bit more got getter,a little to much letting things just happen and not fighting them off. But it keept you reading to find out what happens. I might actually read the next one to follow Silas.
MysticDaisy More than 1 year ago
This is an You really love the characters and the world building is incredible. Amazing book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NinjaReader22 More than 1 year ago
Shadowcry was an overall okay book. The world was very imaginative (which I liked), but seemed a bit dreary. The author spent most of her time explaining the world and scenery rather than explaining her characters and their appearances. The main character, Kate, wasn't very interesting nor very likeable, and neither was her supposed love-interest, Edgar. I know almost nothing about the two whereas the villain, Silas, is enthralling and his past is an engima, but eventually filled in to satisfy the reader. I'm pretty sure that most books want you to like the heroes more than the villain, but it was not the case for me with this one. What I liked about this book was that it was based in a whole other world that was interesting, but sort of gloomy. I also liked how people like Kate were able to do things that involved the element of death, which for me, is a very cool and mysterious topic. As I said before, the book was okay all in all, but it is not a waste of money if you choose to buy it. It's good if you have time to kill or just want something different without the main story (or any part of it) being about romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I_read_books More than 1 year ago
The idea of this book I found very interesting, but the story itself...it seems like the author spent way too much time on the scenery and not enough on the actual plot. The characters were good, and the places in the book were neat, but with too much description, both of these ended up lost. Not a bad book, but not my favorite. Definitely won't read the rest of the series.
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Jayfether More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I didn't have anything else to read and this was the only book that mildly interest me. So I went back to my house and started reading. It was kinda slow at first but then it was all like BANG something captures your attention. Then it slowed down a bit and just as I was about to call it quits it was all like BANG BANG BANG. Things started happening really quick and by the time I reached the end of the book I was totally and utterly hooked.
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