Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
published on February 5th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press
young adult | fantasy | historical fiction
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Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood?
Sometimes there are single moments, he thinks, where your path divides, your life can go one way, so very different from another. Work out well, rather than be a failure. And if you miss those chances, he thinks, well, is that it?
I finished Marcus Sedgwick’s The Ghosts of Heaven back in February, and was stunned by how multi-layered and complex it was. Fast forward four months later and I finally pick up Sedgwick’s debut novel, crossing my fingers it was as well-written and thought-provoking as The Ghosts of Heaven. And, I must say, it is all that and more.
Sedgwick has a unique and intriguing style of writing that captivates from the very beginning. He manages to put together different short stories with seemingly nothing in common; and show how they all spiral together.
Midwinterblood is comprised of seven different short stories, all set in different time periods throughout history. These seven stories have only one thing in common: their setting, a mysterious island off the coast of Scandinavia. As we read through each of the seven’s stories, we soon begin to wonder that this seemingly idyllic island has some very disturbing secrets.
If a life can be ruined in a single moment, a moment of betrayal, or violence, or ill luck, then why can a life not also be saved, be worth living, be made, by just a few pure moments of perfection?
The characters are diverse and well-developed. It’s difficult to discuss them without spoiling something about the story, but they all have intriguing motives and well-defined personalities. Some characters are Vikings, others still are ghosts or vampires. One is a journalist; one a pilot. Yet one thing is consistent: Marcus manages to make us feel for each and every character, even despite the fact that the stories they appear in are short ones.
The one thing that stands out about this story is the wonderful world-building. The eeriness of the island and the secrets it holds are thrilling and will keep you glued to the pages, making you want to turn the pages as fast as possible to see what the connection between each of the stories is. Not only that, but once you do find out the revelation, just like with Sedgwick’s other books, it will make you think long after you finish that final page.
Thought provoking and layered, this is a unique story that will make your mind turn. I’d highly recommend it; especially for those who like complex and well thought-out plotlines.
Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.