Finally, a glowing example of the rare thing that is the YA novel in translation: Christelle Dabos’s A Winter Promise (Europa Editions, £12.99, trans. Hildegarde Serle), the first in a quartet, has already been a runaway success in its native France. Ophelia is not a typical fantasy heroine; prone to observation rather than action, she nevertheless uncovers a great deal about the power struggles between families when she is sent to the “Pole”, one of several fragmented “Arks” that make up the world, as a bride-to-be for a man who is “as economical with his words as with his good manners”.
Her two gifts – being able to “read” the history of objects through touch, and travel through mirrors – offer up tantalising hints about the nature of magic in this world, although its depiction is always subtle and takes second place to the political intrigue. Despite occasional clunky moments, this is a fresh and engaging addition to the YA fantasy shelves.