Wolfsbane Winter is mostly a reasonably unremarkable fantastical love story, with some hints that this world is one we should be recognising. Not being great on the geography of the US, I only got some of the most obvious ones, like “Ellaye”, but I think there’s others for the more discerning among us. And then, of course, there’s the fact that this unremarkable fantastical love story is remarkable because of one major thing: both protagonists are women.
If you’re looking for relatively traditional fantasy without the crappy gender roles and homophobia, tahdah, you’ve found it! Women are capable soldiers and scouts, in this world, and are mostly allowed to do it. I think I remember some commentary from some characters that was less happy about it, and maybe some gendered insults, but it’s relatively free of that. The character arcs are fairly traditional too: from a damaged, traumatised child to one who can accept love, or from being broken down by a strange new ability to slowly coming to terms with it… It all feels very traditional, except minus the inevitable Guy Getting The Girl (and there are no kitchen boys who become kings, either, if you want to be really pedantic).
Given that fantasy is relatively devoid of non-straight love stories of any type, it was kind of charming to have a traditional one like this to read. If you’re looking for something groundbreaking, this isn’t it, except that it portrays a world a little more broad-minded than your average medieval fantasy novel. (Which this isn’t quite, see also “Ellaye”, but it feels it.) But it is fun.