Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book review: Midwinter Blood, by Marcus Sedgwick

There are tales of a strange island that few are privileged to visit.  The citizens of the village on the island live exceptionally long lives, believe in the old ways--without technology--and everything seems to be perfect.  

But the island has a long history of secrets: hidden parts of the island; tea with strange side effects concocted from a mythical flower; and a specific, and at times violent, island mythology that traces back to the beginnings of the island village.

The reader is invited to explore these secrets in seven short narratives written in reverse chronological order, starting in 2073 and working backwards through hundreds of years.  These stories seem to be completely different from each other, until you encounter several recurring objects and characters:  a hare, a black orchid, and Eric and Merle.  These two people are different characters throughout the book, but always connected, whether they are brother and sister, husband and wife, mother and son, or father and daughter.

Midwinter Blood, by Marcus Sedgwick, is a strange but intriguing book.  Although there are several moments that seem awkward in terms of word choice, overall the book is smart, draws you into each short story, and ties them all together in the end.  It takes to nearly the end of the book to understand what is really going on, but each storyline is compelling enough to keep the reader interested.  Romance, mythology, fantasy, and some elements of horror are featured throughout, so you may be able to promote the book to lovers of these genres or to higher-level readers looking for an enthralling read.