Mara is the granddaughter of Striborg, the Slavic god of winter winds and has grown up in his castle, but when her human father falls ill, the family are sent back to the human world. After her father’s death Mara finds it impossible to accept and decides to rescue his spirit before it is caught in the underworld called Navia. Together with her friend Torniv she sets out on a dangerous journey that will test them beyond their limits and with no certainty that they will be successful in the end. They meet an array of magical and mystical creatures and have a large number of challenges throughout their journey, but whilst some of the creatures try to stop them, others prove to be more helpful.
This is a heart-breaking story of family and loss, but with the added twist that Mara is only half human and her mother’s family of gods lack the feelings that we associate with human families. The author has called on her Polish roots to bring a real feel of Eastern European folklore and myths to this tale. The background description gives a strong sense of place to the story and you begin to understand the reasons why people hold the beliefs that they do. The friendship between Mara and Torniv is so strong that the latter is magically changed into a bear during the day, because he would not stop helping Mara in her quest; showing the difference between human relationship and the more distanced feelings of the gods. This makes a wonderful introduction to a mythology that is not well known to many children and it also links in very well with stories such as ‘Baba Yaga’, which are found in Russia and other Slavic nations. Above all, this is a fast paced and enthralling adventure story, with a huge amount of action and some strong and likeable characters.