Winter Damage

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Review

Ennor Carne needs to find her mother. Her father is dying and she can’t lose her little brother, Trip, to social services - so armed with only an old photograph and rumours of her whereabouts she’s out to track down the infamous Eleanor Carne.

Set in the ravaged landscape of a once-familiar Cornwall, the devastating effects of a foot-and-mouth epidemic has destroyed Ennor's family and their livelihood. Whilst Trip battles with the more 'colourful days' of his autism, Ennor takes safety in numbers, finding comfort in counting. An affectionate friendship with her neighbour, Butch, hints at a blossoming romance, but as their troubled surroundings darken, it seems that survival is the most that anyone can hope for. It is a surprise, then, that this book turns out to be a story of true friendship. Outspoken traveller girl Sonny is as quick with her comebacks as she is with her fists but in the harsh conditions of the snow and ice, the warmth of good company is enough to melt even the toughest exterior. 

Winter Damage will likely incur comparisons to the tremendous How I Live Now by the (always excellent) Meg Rosoff, but the raw narrative voice of this novel seems closer to the western drawl of Charles Portis’ original girl-on-a-mission story, True Grit. Empowerment, loyalty and the importance of family - whatever form it may take - are the order of the day here, and Ennor's realistic strength, love and endurance make her a strong literary heroine. A crisp, pure voice amongst the overwhelming techno buzz of modern dystopian thrillers, this novel is truly refreshing.

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