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Blackthorn Winter Hardcover – January 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Broken into its components, this book promises a great mystery: a teenaged heroine with tragic buried memories beginning to resurface; a cold, windswept winter in a colorless English seaside town; a pushy, witchlike busybody mysteriously murdered; a cute guy next door; and two warmly lovable younger siblings for comic relief. Unfortunately, the author has difficulty balancing the plot, the necessary explanations of background, a mysterious tone, and her narrators character. I have a memory problem, Juliana confesses, but it takes another 58 pages of meeting new characters and having strange, weird feelings before she finally tells readers what the problem is and muses upon why she has it. The wonderfully visceral setting and intriguing cast of characters almost make up for the baffling narrator, but ultimately the link between the two simultaneous mysteries proves tenuous, and the identity of the murderer no mystery at all.–Rhona Campbell, Washington DC Public Library
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Review

"Mystery fans will enjoy this well-plotted story, which [combines] budding romance, family problems, amnesia, international travel and murder."--Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; First Edition edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152054790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152054793
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,997,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Ohio, and received B.A. degrees in English and German from Duke University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. After college, I lived in Bonn, Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, and during this time wrote the first draft of my first novel, TIME WINDOWS. Getting it published was a dream come true for me, and I am so honored that it's still in print more than twenty years later, has won awards, and had some interest from movie producers (but no film in the works yet...).

I've been a Writer in Residence for the Princeton Arts Council, a recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant for Writers, and a featured speaker with (among others) Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Northern California Library Association, The International Reading Association, Fresno County Office of Education, California Reading Association, The American Library Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

My husband and I live in Northern California, in a rambling mid-19th century house with an unruly garden. We have seven children, as well as a new daughter-in-law, plus assorted pets: dogs, cats, fish. When not at home with my family or working on a new book, I teach Creative Writing at Mills College, where I am a Professor of English.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Juliana Martin-Drake has enough on her mind. Her mother has dragged her and her brother and sister halfway around the world in an effort to "find herself" as an artist. Not only does Juliana miss her dad, she worries that her parents will be getting a divorce. Then there's trying to fit into the artist's colony at Blackthorn.

Everything is different in England. Juliana misses the California sunshine, along with her private American bathroom and her gregarious friends. She doesn't know anyone in England; when she speaks to them, she only understands about half of what they're saying. And of course there's the tiny matter of her memory. Juliana can't remember anything from the time before she was adopted, at age 5. It has always bothered her, but --- somehow here in England, separated from almost everything familiar --- it seems even worse.

So the last thing she needs is to be involved in a murder mystery. But when someone bashes neighboring artist Liza Pethering on the back of the head and then leaves her in a river to drown, Juliana finds herself caught up in the drama. Everyone else seems relieved and almost happy when the police arrest the ne'er-do-well of the neighborhood, Simon Jukes. But to Juliana, things just don't add up. There are so many other people with better motives: Liza's henpecked husband; the local patron of the arts who's enraged by the cruel portrait Liza painted of her; the girl Liza recently fired, whose response was to wish Liza dead; and maybe even Juliana's own mother.

Despite mysterious warnings to back off, Juliana continues to investigate. The closer she gets to a solution, the more difficult she finds it to shake the feeling that this is all tied up with her own mysterious past.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In one of her latest novels, Blackthorn Winter, Kathryn Reiss puts everything you would think of in a mystery, and more into the plot. This book wasn't just your average "who done it" mystery; it included drama, suspense, and more. I have to say, I have read a lot of mysteries in my life, and this one definitely is on the top of my list. Some mysteries are a little unrealistic, but this one I could understand how she was feeling, and it all seemed real to me.

When Juliana Martin-Drake's parents split, her mom drags her and her two other siblings off to a small artist's town in England, called Blackthorn Village. Juliana is adopted, and can't remember anything from before she was five years old. When she arrives in Blackthorn, she starts to have strange dreams, and gets a sense of insecurity. Just when the Martin-Drake family starts to get settled in to their small cottage, one of their close friends is murdered. A prime suspect was immediately arrested, but Juliana was sure that he was innocent. When Juliana started looking into the murder more, she makes a shocking discovery. While all of that was going on, there was more drama; new friends, and even a boy named Duncan. Kathryn Reiss does a great job of making the dialog of the people interesting. For example, a very uneducated person, had very poor speech, and she wrote it like that. All of those little details made the story more realistic. Sometimes I felt like I was inside the book; when Juliana felt someone watching her, I would actually look around the room.

If I was asked what the main tone, or feeling of this book was, I would have to say suspense. I know I say it a lot, but that's what the book mainly was; full of suspense. There were many moments when I felt my own heart pounding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. Its about a girl named Juliana whose family goes to live in England. A friend of the family mysteriously gets murdered and Juliana must find out who has done it.

A very exciting book indeed - I recommend every one of Kathryn Reiss' books - all are terrific.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sunny skies and warm beaches was the life for fifteen year-old Juliana Martin-Drake. All of this

would change when her mother moves to Blackthorn, an "artist's paradise", on the coast of

England. Along with her two siblings, Edmund and Ivy, (more often referred to as the Goops) she

and her mother arrive in Blacthorn, and they meet her mother's old (literally) friend, Liza

Pethering, who didn't have a good looking appearance. She looked like a witch: old, black hair,

a crooked nose, and an attitude that could drive anyone mad. Juliana especially meets a

British teen named Duncan, whose stepfather, Quent Carrington, is renting her family an old

stone cottage, and is a talented sculptor, too. She also meets a photographer who's referred to

as Kate, whose mother, Celia Glendenning, isn't a fan of Liza Pethering either. It seems in

Blackthorn that everyone's against Liza Pethering, but no one pays any attention until she's

found dead in a stream after leaving the party drunk. The suspected killer, Simon Jukes, is

arrested and taken to the police. All is well until his brother keeps claiming that he's innocent,

and she suspects that maybe someone else killed Liza Perthering, and not Simon Jukes. That's

when she find's out the clues. First, in her own house, she discovers a bloodstain on the floor, and notices that a couple pieces of jewelry that was given to her mother was missing. One of them,

a beach rock, could have been used to knock Liza out, and then she would have been dragged

to the stream where she would have drowned. Then she finds the evidence that whoever did

this did use the rock, which was found in the stream.
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