RBD: Book Review, Part 1 – “The Winter Boy”

This is the 1st Part of this post.  See the 2nd Part on December 29th.

WB Cover.

The Winter Boy

Sally Wiener Grotta

Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, Mary Doria Russell and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Winter Boy explores important political and social issues within a dynamic, character-driven otherworld, wrapped up in masterful storytelling.

The Valley of the Alleshi is the center of all civilization, the core and foundation of centuries of peace. A cloistered society of widows, the Alleshi, has forged a peace by mentoring young men who will one day become the leaders of the land. Each boy is paired with a single Allesha for a season of intimacy and learning, using time-honored methods that include dialog, reason and sexual intimacy. However, unknown to all but a hidden few, the peace is fracturing from pressures within and beyond, hacking at the very essence of their civilization.

Amidst this gathering political maelstrom, Rishana, a young new idealistic Allesha, takes her First Boy, Ryl, for a winter season of training. But Ryl is a “problem boy” who fights Rishana every step of the way. At the same time, Rishana uncovers a web of conspiracies that could not only destroy Ryl, but threatens to tear their entire society apart. And a winter that should have been a gentle, quiet season becomes one of conflict, anger and danger.


Review – “The Winter Boy”

The fantasy culture in ‘The Winter Boy’ is, as expected, unique. In the Valley of the Alleshi, the women, specifically the widows, train the young men as Allemen, the leaders. The overriding desire is for ‘Peace’, the counterpoint to ‘Before’, when there was chaos. The culture uses multiple names for people.

Rishanna, a recent widow and new Allesha, looks forward to her First Season, when she’ll choose and train her Winter Boy.

But, something’s afoot. Dara, her mentor, is subtly pressuring her to choose Ryl of the Battai, who is different from the other young men. She relents, dismissing her concerns, and accepts Dara’s choice as her trainee.

This is the story of Ryl’s training, and the ever-increasing indications that there’s trouble brewing – a threat to the ‘Peace’, and that Ryl is in danger.

At first, Ryl, now named Dov, bucks Rishanna, now named Tayar, constantly, but soony, he realizes the training is important for his future.

In time, Rishanna/Tayar can no longer deny the conspiracy, and investigates, alarmed at her findings. Is there anyone she can trust?

Then, an Allesha is dead, and guns are missing from the warehouse, along with some relics from ‘Before’.

Can Rishanna/Tayar, with Ryl/Dov’s help, root out the problems, or will the ‘Peace’ collapse and the chaos return?

A well-written book, with a great story, and wonderful characters, I found just one flaw. From the point where Ryl/Dov’s training begins, the pace drags until Rishanna/Tayar decides to stop denying the conspiracy and starts investigating. Otherwise, I’d definitely recommend this wonderful book to others.

I give ‘The Winter Boy’ 4.5 stars.


Excerpt from “The Winter Boy”

The Valley of the Alleshi stretches wide and green, surrounded by gentle mountains that cut the coldest of winds from the north and the wildest of hurricanes from the south. In the spring, summer and fall, the eight passes to The Valley flow constantly with pilgrims, traders, petitioners and emissaries — and, of course, Allemen, the leaders of the land, trained by the Alleshi. But in winter, heavy snow fills the high mountain passes. Only during those deep white months is The Valley isolated and inaccessible. It is a precious quiet season for the Alleshi.

As one such season approached, Rishana had just returned home from a strengthening class at the Communal Hall when she saw Dara through her mudroom window.

Dara was tall and lean, with flesh deeply etched by life. Her black hair was streaked with wide swathes of white. With precise, practiced grace, she walked up to the back door, raised her hand to knock, then noticed Rishana standing inside. So she opened the door and walked in.

“Dara, you’re early!” Why was her mentor here, now, before she could bathe and prepare herself for their daily meeting?

“I’m not staying long.” Dara followed Rishana into the spacious sun-filled kitchen and sat at the square oak table.

Obviously, Dara had something on her mind that she felt couldn’t wait.

“Yes?” Rishana asked, as she sat down across from Dara. Her exercise suit was sweat-stained and itched. She raked the wet strands of her auburn hair that were escaping the tie-back ribbon, pushing them behind her ears.


  Click here for a Sample Chapter of The Winter Boy.

Purchase your copy of The Winter Boy” here,
or at the bookstore of your choice

For more information, please contact
Cynthia Dadson at Cynthia@PixelHallPress.com


SHG headAuthor Biography

Sally Wiener Grotta is a consummate storyteller, reflecting her deep humanism and appreciation for the poignancy of life. As an award-winning journalist, she has authored hundreds of articles, columns, essays and reviews for scores of glossy magazines, newspapers, journals and online publications. She has also co-authored numerous non-fiction books. Her fiction includes “Jo Joe” and “The Winter Boy.” A member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Sally Wiener Grotta is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events on the creativity, storytelling, the business of writing, as well as on photography and the traditional tradespeople of her American Hands narrative portrait project.


Where can readers find Sally Wiener Grotta:
Web site:
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Google+: google.com/+SallyWienerGrotta
AmHands: www.AmHands.com
YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/13jpWwQ


This is the 1st Part of this post.  See the 2nd Part on December 29th.


 Happy Writing,


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