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A book for lovers of plot rather than character
on January 29, 2014
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.