The problem with killing off archetypes like The North Wind, aka, Bigby Wolf's dad, is that they must be replaced. There are supposed to be four cardinal winds after all. Following the death/incarceration of The North Wind in the service of getting rid of Mister Dark, Bigby, Snow and their little monsters are summoned to The North Wind's icy keep for the purpose of choosing a successor. Snow, as any mother would be, is less than enthusiastic about the idea. Especially since it seems to involve putting her young children through various tests. Meanwhile, the other four winds arrive, South, West, and East. Of course, they've got their own nefarious plans.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Fables return to the Farm, finding that the facility has survived untouched by Mister Dark. Rose Red begins putting plans in motion to retake their home in Manhattan. But first she must undertake a kind of Christmas Carol-esque quest to find her purpose as the newest agent of hope.
Back in Manhattan, Miss Spratt--the now very lean Miss Spratt and former acolyte of Mister Dark--is planning a nasty surprise for the returning Fables.
Bufkin, the flying monkey (former, as he lost his wings in a previous outing), continues his exploration of the land of Oz, finding himself the semi-reluctant leader of a revolution against the emperor. Yeah, you know that'll end well. Not.
This volume ends with several short vignettes which include a story about the long forgotten founder of the Fables' home in Manhattan. The rest don't seem to have a connection to any overall story arc, but giving the Fables' writers previous pattern, they probably do. My fave being the story about a porcupine cursed to desire the affections of only human women.
In general, the overall feel for this volume is that it's again setting things up for bigger stuff to come. Which is totally cool. Bufkin's arc provides the only significant cliffhanger. Rose Red's decision, what hope she will represent, uh, is left to (hopefully) be revealed in the next volume. She will also be dealing with the consequences of an unintentional (and bad) bargain that she made on her winter's night adventure.
A surprising new North Wind is chosen, and Bigby and family temporarily go on with life as usual (though one of the children ponders the meaning of a strange Christmas gift).
Miss Spratt's arc is the least satisfying, consisting largely of her hanging out with her new boy toy/trainer and making ominous noises about her plans for the Fables.
Not the most emotionally challenging or adventurous Fables volume, but good fun nonetheless.