Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Returning” as Want to Read:
The Returning
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Returning

3.1  ·  Rating Details ·  787 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
An intense story of love, loss and turmoil in the aftermath of war. A first novel by a uniquely talented author.

Vivid, compassionate and totally absorbing, Bloodflower follows the fortunes of young Cam Attling and all those whose fates entwine with his.

Cam has a hunger, an always-hunger; it drives him from home, to war, from north to south. When he returns from war alone
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Dial (first published June 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Returning, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Returning

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
5 stars for quality, 3 stars for personal enjoyment.
The Returning isn't a book I would normally choose to read, because a) I try to avoid historical fiction as much as I can; and b) as a former literature student, I've read my fair share of literary fiction and, unless it was written by Coetzee, I have no desire to read any more in the next five years or so. Historical + literary usually means I'd rather eat dirt, thank you very much. However, this isn't just any book. Aside from being a Printz
Feb 21, 2012 Chachic rated it liked it
Recommended to Chachic by: MWT and MM
Originally posted here.

I ordered a copy of The Returning by Christine Hinwood because it's blurbed by two of my favorite authors: Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta. Of course, I had to read it! It also recently received the Printz Honor. Plus, both the premise and the cover looked intriguing.

The writing is certainly different from anything that I've ever read. I'm not even sure what genre The Returning falls under - I feel like it's a mix of both fantasy and historical fiction. Fantasy b
Although the average rating of 3.25 stars strongly indicated „Beware, this book is not for everyone”, I never would have guessed that I might be one of those unlucky specimen the book prefers not to talk to. My conviction (which even resulted in my ordering the book in spite of my friend Arlene’s offer to include me in her book tour) that Bloodflower and I would be very compatible had been sustained by several powerful factors:

A) The cover is so very beautiful – but in a different way than some
Nov 25, 2011 Crowinator rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that is deceptively simple on the surface, but is actually quite complex when it comes time to describe or classify it. I put it on the "historical" and "fantasy" shelf, though it doesn't really fit on either of those shelves. It doesn't fit on any of my genre shelves, actually, and it reminds me quite strongly of Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now in many ways; not in its language, of course, but in its themes of war, loss, and family, as well as its timelessness. Rosoff's b ...more
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

I did something with The Returning by Christine Hinwood that I never do with debut novels. I preodered it. Why? Well, if you look at the back of the US hardcover you will find quotes by two authors who praise highly the characters and themes of the story. Those two authors are Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta. Little wonder I wanted to read it. I can see why the book would appeal to these two. Hinwood has the same ability to convey much with few words and cr
Jun 27, 2009 Adele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bloodflower ... is difficult to put into words. It's a beautiful read, full of complexity, meaningful themes and natural character development. Set in a country recovering from war, turmoil and grief still aplenty with citizens displaced and a new ruler on the throne. Cam returns to his family psychologically and physically scarred from his wartime adventures and the town of Kayforl is wracked with tall tales of his supposed betrayal.

There are many characters, including Cam, that are interwoven
Feb 09, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
It took nearly half the book for me to figure out what direction the author was taking: was it a book about class? about returning from war? about life in the vaguely Middle Ages? about love (both heterosexual and implied homosexual)? about culture clashes? That it took that long doesn't usually bode well for the ending. There were too many characters introduced, with chapters all from their different points of view - this added to the confusion. A couple of the characters at first appeared impo ...more
May 02, 2011 Joy rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen, fantasy, 21c, australian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2014 Bethany rated it it was amazing

Absolutely beautiful.

The Returning (or Bloodflower) was a shocking read, springing tears to my eyes as I had read the last page. I have never read something so unique, so different than the writing that is in this book, and it is stunning!

I was completely sucked into this amazing world that the story tells, of the humble villagers, the Downlanders, and the superior quirky Uplanders. The story takes place after the war that had gone on between the two of them. I love both sides, (thou
Sep 18, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-releases
This is an odd little book. It started out very slowly, and for the first hundred pages or so, I kept thinking “yeah, I’m going to go read something else...after the next few pages.” But I didn’t; I kept reading and suddenly I looked down to find that there were only twenty pages yet, but I really didn’t want the book to end. The last chapter is absolutely beautiful.

I’ve seen the words ‘heartbreakingly beautiful” applied to The Returning. It’d be nice if I hadn’t seen them because then I could u
Mark Flowers
Apr 18, 2012 Mark Flowers rated it really liked it
Mixed feelings about this one. It was incredibly painful reading for the first third or so. In particular, I felt that the "dialect" Hinwood came up with was much closer to the purposefully eccentric language in The Talk Funny Girl than anything that real people would actually say. Also, it was tough to keep track of all the different families, although some of that is my fault.

On the other hand, the last third, when the stories began to come together and resolve was really great. So I'm sure th
Maureen E
Oct 31, 2011 Maureen E rated it really liked it
I picked this one up without knowing much about it because the blurb on the front was from Megan Whalen Turner, and the one on the back was from Melina Marchetta. Normally I don’t pay much attention to blurbs, but TWO of my favorite authors? I clearly needed to read this. I really liked it, the slow deepening of relationships and complexity. The style reminds me a bit of the Earthsea books, in that it is very removed. One note–I was surprised by a particular scene at the end, which was suddenly ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Marija rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-mg, fantasy-sci-fi
When I came across the description for this book, it immediately grabbed my attention, and I was really looking forward to reading it. However upon finishing this book, I don’t feel that it really met all of my expectations.

One the one hand, I think thematically—like fellow Printz award recipient, Where Things Come Back—it would lead to some good discussions for students, especially when linking the book’s themes with the ending. Will feelings change...will promises be it still possib
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It took me forever to become invested in the story. The main character Cam is the only villager to return home after a war between the Uplanders and the Downlanders. he's a Downlander who owes his life to the Uplander prince who chose to spare him, after lopping off his right arm. The pace of the novel is very slow. It's a study of how war effects everyone, how resilient people can be, how in order to survive you may have to readjust to the new order of things.. The story follows a number of sur ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Isamlq rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-galley
There are so many characters in this one and all their experience so unfamiliar to me that I wanted to get familiar with every single one of them as well with every aspect of their stories. The story spans a long while, beginning from right after Cam’s return and eventually tackling his younger sister’s own beginning…but the story is so much more than their family, because it touched on everyone around them. It’s quite daunting trying to sum it up, so I won’t even try… but I do see why there’s s ...more
Mar 18, 2012 Nic rated it really liked it
Shelves: map-in-the-front
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria Kramer
Aug 18, 2012 Maria Kramer rated it it was amazing
This series of loose, poetic vignettes covers a span of years after Cam Attling comes home from war, the only survivor of those from his village. Though he tries to re-accustom himself to his old life, he can't -- he has to find out why he survived. While Cam goes back North, to Dorn-Lannet and Lord Ryuu, the enemy who spared his life, his family, friends and entire village change in unexpected ways.

This book is just beautiful, more a series of prose poems than a novel. The emotional depth that
Aug 18, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a book. Quiet, eloquent, and incredibly compelling. I can't say it's one I would recommend to everyone, but it has thoroughly cemented a place on my favorites shelf. Hinwood has a breathtaking, softer, poetic style--the chapters are basically vignettes, until suddenly they're all woven together and everything has its place. I liked Acton's chapter, LOVED Ban's chapter, and adored Faithful most of all. None of these characters are stock. They are diverse, wonderfully crafted and unique, and ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Shelley rated it it was ok
Three hundred pages of reading I'll never get back.
This book was like walking on a path that keeps getting longer and longer; then when you finally see the end in sight, you discover the end is a sharp drop off a cliff and you wonder where the path went. I enjoyed the character development, except one, Ban. He seems to have been inserted into the story for no apparent reason other than having a token gay character (in a medieval story?).
I was so ambivalent about the book when I was done. Even th
Dec 18, 2011 Celine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this quite hard to stick with at the beginning and probably wouldn't have kept reading had it not been recommended to me by someone I trust. (It was the writing style I think - it felt very distancing and it was hard for me to engage with the characters) HOWEVER if you do stick with this book ( and please do)you'll be treated to a very rich fare indeed. Unusual and moving, very subtle and in all ways unexpected. I'd even call it a wise book. Lovely.
Top marks to the Australian cover a
Feb 19, 2012 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lisa, Kezia, Louise
Shelves: adult, fantasy, medieval
War veteran Cam returns home with only one arm and his family treats him as if he is useless. He struggles with flashbacks from battle and thinks to return to the Lord's house whose son cut off Cam's arm, especially after the family of his betrothed decides to bow out of the arrangement. Cam's story is the principal one, but Hinwood gives depth and richness to her other characters, and like a true storyteller, manages all elements beautifully. Rich writing and a lovely flow make this Printz hono ...more
Aug 23, 2016 Suezq rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Not a bad story, a little out of my normal genres. Living outside the box and reading some YA mildly Fantasy for a book challenge.
Alexandra Laub
Feb 08, 2015 Alexandra Laub rated it did not like it
Shelves: war
Worst book I've ever read. None of the characters were likeable. Half the time it was near impossible to understand the content of their conversations due to the style the author wrote their speech in. The story jumped around constantly and had no direction; one chapter would focus on one character, then the next, a totally different one. Also, there was no way to track how long the time period of the story covered (I think it took place over about eight years, but it's impossible to know).

May 15, 2012 Natalie rated it liked it
Wonderfully complex and layered portrayal of the effects of war on those who went to fight and those who stayed behind. I especially loved the way the slightly fantastical setting added some ethnic ambiguity to the various groups of characters. My only complaint, and it's not minor, is that all of the lovely drawn-out plotting and shifting perspectives collapsed in the last fifty pages, as though the author had discovered a previously unknown time limit and was spitting out story as fast as she ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unconventional story about the lives of villagers in the aftermath of a conflict with Japanese-styled Northerners (which the Northerners won).

The book is well written, in particular the psychologies and relationships of the characters. Unfortunately, the situation isn't my thing; it lacks supernatural elements and adventure, and doesn't stay on particular characters long enough for me to sympathise with them.
Jan 29, 2016 Margaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Well, it's one heck of a debut. Hinwood writes relationships, real relationships, the way I have found them to be. Without so many labels. The friendship between Gyaar and Cam was one of the high points for me, although there were many.

Layered and uncompromising and never one thing or another, only itself. As Rothfuss did, Hinwood clearly took the time to make her debut novel one worth reading.

There are a couple moments inappropriate for younger readers, but they pass by in the style of the book
Nov 02, 2012 elissa rated it liked it
The only Printz Honor book that I hadn't heard a word about before the YMA announcement in Jan. Hard to decide between 3 & 4 stars on this one. I liked the characters and setting a lot, but I was never completely absorbed by this, and it took me a long time to read it.
Sharon Malcolm
An absolute delight. A tenderly spun allegorical tale, complex in its simplicity. Lovingly fleshed out characters, not one too big or too small to have their own part to play in the overall magical weave. A total honey of a book.
Jun 01, 2011 Ellen rated it it was ok
I understand and applaud the concept - intersecting lives in the aftermath of war, but I was never able to warm up to any of the characters. Beautiful cover though.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The White Bicycle
  • Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art
  • Freewill
  • Many Stones
  • John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth
  • The Ropemaker (The Ropemaker, #1)
  • Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
  • Punkzilla
  • One Whole and Perfect Day
  • Black Juice
  • Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein
  • Revolver
  • Dreamquake (The Dreamhunter Duet, #2)
  • Chanda's Secrets (Chanda, #1)
  • My Heartbeat
  • A Wreath for Emmett Till
  • True Believer (Make Lemonade, #2)
  • Postcards from No Man's Land
Christine Hinwood was born in England and grew up mostly in Australia, but also in England and America. She's always written. When she was very small, she used to sit and make up stories in her head while cuddling her security blanket; she called it 'having a thought', then, and told people she'd have to talk to them after she'd finished it.

Christine studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMI
More about Christine Hinwood...

Share This Book