Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

sedgwickLynn:  With five stars from the major review journals, Midwinterblood (Roaring Brook 2013) has already had a lot of wonderful things written about it.  Cindy and I are late to the party but we have both been fans since reading this early in the summer.  I’m not sure why it has taken so long to post about it but I suspect part of the reason may lie with my inability to think of how to describe this amazing book.  Is it a collection of short stories, a novel with seven chapters, or a symphony with seven movements?  However you classify it, this is a memorable reading experience.

Seven interconnected chapters or stories or movements begin with a reporter, Eric, arriving on Blessed, a remote island where it is said no one ages, no children are born and mysterious flowers bloom.  Eric is warmly greeted and welcomed with wonderful hospitality but he quickly senses that something is wrong and the story spins out eerily to a stunning close.  The next story opens 60 years earlier and the story and people are all different and the next  story is set 60 years previous spiraling back into ancient times.  Each new story features different people and and different times and different circumstances – or are they?  A pattern begins to develop and readers begin to put together the clues and to make observations.  Each story deals with love and with death.  Each includes references to orchids, the moon, dragons, blood and the eternal cycles of life.  Gorgeously written, epic and mythic and haunting, this is a book to be savored and pondered.

MidwinterbloodCindy: Lynn is right that we’ve been dragging our heels on writing up this one. Having read this last spring, I remember the structure of the novel and some of the events, but mostly I remember the mood and the setting. Perhaps I have fallen under the same memory loss spell that Eric has and just can’t recall what I know about the book or that I am supposed to be writing a blog post about it! Rather than trying to explain more of the plot, I’d like to talk about who this book is for. Think Margo Lanagan. Elizabeth Knox. Iain Lawrence’s The Lightkeeper’s Daughter. This is a book for older teens. New adults. It’s for readers who love rich language, intriguing, unusual stories, and stories with adult characters. It would make a fabulous book club suggestion for older teens and adults. We have delayed writing about it long enough that the paperback cover art is available for the April 2014 release. Which cover do you like the best?

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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