Review Blog

Mar 27 2012

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

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Indigo, 2011. ISBN 9781780621234.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. It is the year 2073 and Eric, a journalist, travels to the secretive island of Blessed, where it is rumoured that no one ever grows old, but where children are never born. When he arrives on the island, he is captivated by its wild beauty, but is aware of strange happenings. Here he meets the beautiful Merle and falls in love.
With the use of seven interlinked stories, Sedgwick brings to life different times on the island, all joined with the common theme of love and sacrifice. Sedgwick is a master of prose and his sparsely written stories echo through the ages tales of soul mates and Kings who must be ritually killed to ensure that the people keep living. There are moments of horror and deep sadness as the story unfolds.
As I read I became fascinated by the story of the island. The beautiful dragon orchid is a key to understanding what is happening. It has enormous power to extend the life span but its use has devastating effect on the fertility of the people on the island.
The mixture of ancient lore, of blood sacrifice and eternal love has an intensity to it that made the book very difficult to put down. It is dark and thrilling and I was often appalled at the violence of the sacrifice, the picture of the knife poised above the victim on the altar staying with me well after I finished reading. The idea of eternal love is beautifully explored and Sedgwick manages to maintain the fear that the lovers will never be reunited.
A fantasy that is adult in its treatment, this book will be relished by readers who have read previous books by Sedgwick or who want a literate, almost Gothic like story to thrill.
Pat Pledger

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