Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake | Slavic Folklore and Magic

Posted April 10, 2019 by Sophia

Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake | Slavic Folklore and Magic

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using that link, a small commission is made from the sale. There are no additional costs to you. Thank you for your support!

Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake | Slavic Folklore and MagicThrough the White Wood by Jessica Leake
Published by HarperTeen on April 9, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Publisher

The Bear and the Nightingale meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore.

When Katya loses control of her power to freeze, her villagers banish her to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.

Expecting punishment, she is surprised to find instead that Sasha is just like her—with the ability to summon fire. Sasha offers Katya friendship and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.

But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies are organizing an army of people bent on taking over the entire world.

Together, Katya’s and Sasha’s powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will Katya and Sasha lose everything they hold dear?

Inspired by Russian mythology, this lushly romantic, intensely imaginative, and fiercely dramatic story is about learning to fight for yourself, even when the world is falling down around you.

A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.

Through the White Wood was interesting to read.

Although there were some things I didn’t like about this one, I enjoyed many aspects of Jessica Leake’s latest novel. Through the White Wood is the companion novel to Beyond a Darkened Shore, following Katya as she journeys to the palace of Kiev after losing control of her powers. But as she enters palace life, she learns the country she calls home is threatened by outside forces.

We learn from the beginning Katya is feared since childhood due to her ability to freeze anything she touches. Throughout the book, Katya is constantly struggling with the question, “am I a monster?”

Elements of History and Folklore.

Although Leake mentions in the author’s note she took liberties with certain elements, I loved seeing how they would come together in Through the White Wood. There’s a good blend of history, folklore and fantasy that nothing seems out of place and sparks a curiosity to do my own research outside of the book.

I wanted more from Through the White Wood.

I enjoyed going back into the Byzantine Empire and seeing some of the Slavic folklore coming to life. However, I really felt there’s something missing from the novel. As I got further into the story, I found myself somewhat disappointed with a few aspects:

  • Katya – I wanted more from her. Sometimes I feel she is going through actions because she feels she has to and eventually it morphs into wanting.
  • Prince Sasha – I also wanted more from him, particularly his backstory and the rumors surrounding him before Katya meets him. Also, Prince Sasha’s real name is Vladimir, which kind of struck me as odd? The novel mentions Sasha is a childhood name, but I don’t recall going into the particulars of why.
  • The romance – it just felt out of place and a little rushed. I found the world far more interesting.

Most of the novel dives into this struggle as Katya learns about her history and power, and she struggles with accepting her ability as part of who she is. There is little action up until the final battle, where everything feels a little rushed to get to victory. (Little action may just be me – at a certain time of day, lots of telling exhausts me and my goal is to stay awake.)


I enjoyed Through the White Wood! I liked seeing Katya’s constant struggle of whether or not she’s a monster and her journey to discover who she is. The world is interesting enough for me to continue reading Katya’s story, and I liked seeing the various elemental powers being a part of it. Jessica Leake’s latest novel is a solid story for those who enjoy a slower-paced book with historical and folklore elements woven together.

through the white wood jessica leake

About Jessica Leake

jessica leake

Jessica Leake is the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore as well as the adult novels Arcana and The Order of the Eternal Sun. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, four young children, lots of chickens, and two dogs who keep everyone in line. Visit her at

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Blogger at | More Posts

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-Pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

If you enjoy her posts, consider supporting her through Ko-Fi.

Categories: Books
Tags: , , , , ,

Want to be a bookwyrm and get all the bookish posts when it goes live?

Leave a Reply

7 responses to “Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake | Slavic Folklore and Magic