In the Snows of Haz by Maxine Janerka
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (38 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Small towns keep their secrets well, and snowy, isolated Haz Gate is no exception. But when a wealthy stranger from the capital is murdered in the night and one of her students stands accused, schoolteacher Linna Nyx has to dig through deceptions thicker than the snow in midwinter to piece together the truth, and comes face to face with a killer who would destroy not only Linna’s peaceful existence, but the very order of the Empire itself.
Not every small town is peaceful and sleepy.
What I liked the most about the world building in this tale was how quickly it happened. I first noticed it in the opening scene, and it only grew stronger as the storyline progressed. There was actually a point when I wondered if I’d accidentally stumbled into the middle of a series because of how complex the society Linna and the other people around her lived in was. While this didn’t turn out to be the case after all, I appreciated how much effort the author put into making the setting feel so multilayered.
The cast of characters was so large that I never got to know any of them well. This was true even for the main characters because the narrator had to spend so much time introducing the secondary ones and explaining what everyone was currently doing. I would have preferred to learn more about the personalities of Linna and Esmine, her student, as they both seemed like fascinating individuals. Unfortunately there simply wasn’t enough time for me to do so because of everything else that was going on at the same time.
The mystery elements of the plot were handled nicely. It was especially interesting to see how slowly the clues were shared with the audience. While there ended up being more than enough of them for me to figure out what was happening before the characters solved the mystery, I was still intrigued by how it all unfolded. There was so much going on with the fallout from the murder that I couldn’t wait to see how the characters dealt with all of it.
In the Snows of Haz should be read by anyone who enjoys a good mystery in a fantasy setting.