Review of The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

SteepandThornyWayThe Steep and Thorny Way
By: Cat Winters
Release Date: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

My Thoughts:
If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll know that I adore Cat Winters’ writing style and each of her books really resonates and impacts me emotionally. This one was no different.

I wasn’t all that sure what to expect about this book going in because I honestly didn’t read the summary prior to requesting it. All I needed to know was that Winters wrote it. I was surprised and impressed with the social issues that were looked into and the way that, though immense emotion was present, the novel didn’t feel like it was telling me how to believe. It was an honest character study in a period of time rife with prejudice and judgment.

My heart ached for the struggles these characters had to deal with and the amount of hate directed at them. Though the setting was historical I think we can draw comparisons to our current day. The way Winters approached her characters was so refreshing and lent itself to honest understanding and empathy from the reader.

My favorite aspect of this novel was how strong Hanalee was. And, though I really don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of the time period or what Hanalee was going through, I was able to relate on a deep level.

Winters always impresses me with her ability to delve into a setting, time period and her characters. You can always tell that there has been a lot of research and study going into these books. I felt that Winters portrayed these characters beautifully and really gave them a voice.

Beyond the amazing characters, most of which were truly well rounded, the elements that mirrored Hamlet were very well done. I had to brush up on Hamlet since it had been ages since I’d read it but once I sparked  my memories I was easily able to see how TSaTW took some of these elements and twisted them into the book. Such as, a lonely ghost seeking to explain his death, mixed up identities and motives, and the journey of a child trying to understand her father’s demise.

As with all of Winters’ books the writing was impeccable though I found the pacing in this one to be a tad slower than her other novels. The paranormal elements were also less pronounce but still very present and integral to the storyline.

Final Thoughts:
Once again Cat Winters has written a book that had me thinking about its message long after finishing the novel. The writing, characters and research of the time period and people was impeccable-as always.


  • Review of The Uninvited by Cat Winters
  • Review of The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
  • Interview with Cat Winters author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds
  • Review of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters


  1. says

    Yay 😀 Awesome review Kristen. <3 I'm so glad you ended up liking this book. I loved it so much. <3 I also adore Cat Winters the most 🙂 She's amazing. So glad you liked this one. And that you liked the characters and the plot 😀 Yay! Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  2. says

    i have never heard of Cat Winters…but I can tell you that I am intrigue!!! I love the time period that this is set in, and every woman loves a good heroine!!! A writer sets themselves apart for me, when they can really take me to a different time period. I am interested to she what shes got!!! Thanks for the review!!

    P.S. I dont live under a rock lol…maybe i just have my nose into too many that possible??? hahah!!.

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