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Midwinterblood Hardcover – October 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Beginning in July 2073, Sedgwick's new novel makes its way backward through time, drawing readers into seven stories from different eras. Whether it is a 21st-century archaeologist, a World War II pilot, or a Viking king, there are subtle but tell-tale signs of the threads that bind them together over the centuries-the echoes of particular names and phrases, the persistence of a mysterious dragon orchid, and other seemingly innocuous moments that all hint at the dark mystery at the center of this lyrical yet horrifying tale. The plot is reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (Sceptre, 2004), with its themes of love and reincarnation, as well as of the cult-movie-turned-book Robin Hardy's Wicker Man (Crown, 1978), with its setting of remote and sinister island inhabitants. The many characters are vividly real and distinct from one another, despite making only brief appearances. Each of these vignettes seem rich enough to be worthy of a novel of its own, and readers might almost wish they could pause in each fascinating, detailed moment rather than be swept through time-and the novel-on the current of a cursed love. Although fans of the author's Revolver (Roaring Brook, 2010) will likely flock to this book to relish more of Sedgwick's stark, suspenseful writing, new readers might find that there are more questions left unanswered than are resolved.-Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the year 2073, a reporter named Eric is sent to Blessed Island to research a rare flower called the Dragon Orchid. There he finds an insular community of mysterious villagers, a delicious tea that has him losing days at a time, and a beguiling girl named Merle. In just 50 pages, we reach a shattering conclusion—and then start anew in 2011. An archaeologist is digging on Blessed Island, where he meets a quiet boy named Eric and his mother, Merle. So begins this graceful, confounding, and stirring seven-part suite about two characters whose identities shift as they are reborn throughout the ages. Sedgwick tells the story in reverse, introducing us to a stranded WWII pilot, a painter trying to resurrect his career in 1901, two children being told a ghost story in 1848, and more, all the way back to a king and queen in a Time Unknown. It is a wildly chancy gambit with little in the way of a solid throughline, but Sedgwick handles each story with such stylistic control that interest is not just renewed each time but intensified. Part love story, part mystery, part horror, this is as much about the twisting hand of fate as it is about the mutability of folktales. Its strange spell will capture you. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's) (October 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780620098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780620091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Every word built the story in evocative and beautiful ways.
Jo Strader
This made the characters very difficult to relate to and made the story feel as though it was a flower simply appearing from nowhere and lacking roots or even a stem.
Ashlyn Jane
This book was well written and each story flowed beautifully.
Lynn Worton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By the golden witch on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There's something so gorgeously unsettling about this book, yet I couldn't put it down. I just knew that I had to find out what happened at the end, through this journey across time, going backward with each short story linked therein. If you want something new, dark, and luminously beautiful with sensory imagery and language that will make your skin crawl, "Midwinterblood" is most definitely your book.

I think the largest issue I had with this book was its sparseness - it was both the best and the most problematic issue of the book. While Sedgwick definitely has a way with sensory imagery and language, its sparseness both contributed to the mystique of this story, of all of the characters and how they tied into each other and the past(using the relationship web school of worldbuilding), and he can describe a whole lot in only a few words, I feel like he could have expanded upon some of that language, characters, and world just a teeny tiny bit more and still retain how gorgeously dark this book was.

However. The language itself was nothing short of dream-like - I plowed through the entire book in one (ONE) sitting. It definitely seduced me and it's a breath of fresh air in the YA genre, that's for damned sure. I was immediately sucked into Eric/Merle/Tor's worlds across time of how everything related to each other, and I couldn't get enough. The end was a bit abrupt, but for me, it worked quite a bit considering how Sedgwick crafted this book. There's a lot of weighted mood here, a lot of pain, but all of it is crafted into something absolutely stellar.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ashlyn Jane on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I found 'Midwinterblood' to be easy to read and difficult to put down, it left me feeling strangely hollow. The plot gallops backwards through the centuries at a pace following the many lives of Eric and Merle, however the links between these lives are fragile and largely symbolic. Breaking the book into so many parts does not allow the reader to become particularly attached to any of the characters, just as one begins to know a character the plot is yanked back into a different life. The two central characters and their relationships to one another are so vastly different in each of these lives that they would be unrecognisable if not for the recurring motifs of their names, the hare and the words 'so it is'. While these motifs are used skilfully, they do not make up for the fact that we know Eric and Merle for such a short time in each of their incarnations that we cannot recognise any ever-present character trait that identifies them with their past or future selves.

Moreover, the love story that should tie it all together has no origin. There was no explanation of how they fell in love or what it was that they loved about each other; they simply were in love and this was taken for granted. This made the characters very difficult to relate to and made the story feel as though it was a flower simply appearing from nowhere and lacking roots or even a stem. This was possibly also due to the story almost always picking up near to the end of one of their lives, so that we saw many times how Eric and Merle were separated, but never understood how they came to be so connected.

Overall, while the writing is beautiful and the plot absorbing the characters and relationships which should anchor the story leave much to be desired.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Slowest Bookworm on October 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Midwinterblood had me hooked from page one and I finished it in just under a day. Seriously, I just could not put this book down! The writing just flows beautifully and is very easy to read.

The book is split into seven parts and an Epilogue. Each part moves back in time through the ages until we reach the 10th Century and after that `time unknown'. Each age that we pass through also coincides with a particular phase of the moon - The Flower Moon, The Harvest Moon, The Hunters Moon and so on. This works really well, and after a couple of chapters you start to see a pattern, but you don't find out the full story until you've read the Epilogue.

Midwinterblood is the first novel by Marcus Sedgwick I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At the start of the book we are in the future, in 2073 and we learn about Eric Seven, the main character as he arrives on Blessed Island. Eric is a journalist and has come to find out more about the creepy, remote island and find out whether the rumours are true. On the island he meets Merle who has lived there all her life and Eric feels like he already knows her from somewhere. There is this instant attraction, but Eric doesn't believe in that love at first sight rubbish and doesn't understand why he has a desperate need to spent time with her.

Blessed Island was really creepy. For one, it is the only place in the world where a specific kind of orchid grows which has special powers. There are also no children on the island and the residents themselves are just so strange. Without giving the story away, I can't really tell you more than that.

With human sacrifices, vampires and vikings, Midwinterblood definitely had it's gory moments, but it also had me under it's spell and I would most certainly recommend this YA novel to all my readers.
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