Sally's Reviews > Midwinterblood

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
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Jan 30, 12

bookshelves: vampires, ya, glbt-girls, historical, future, vikings, islands, challenge-ya-a-to-z, ww2
Read on January 30, 2012, read count: 1

I couldn't think of any other location to shelve this as... now I'm gonna have to go add half the Famous Five books to "island" as well :P The island here is not really given an exact location - it's very far north, but this isn't quite "frozen north"... it feels like it's Scandinavian at times, but then at other times it feels like it might be up north of Scotland.

I like the way its name changed over time, from Bloed to Blessed, as well.

Really, this book was SO AWESOME OMG. Started it on my break at work and finished it tonight when I got home. Not my absolute favourite Sedgwick, but it's restored my faith in him after The Kiss of Death.

It's set in seven different times - 2073, 2011, 1944, 1902, 1848, c. 900AD and somewhere probably even further back than that. In a way it reads like a book of short stories - the chapters are all set on the same island, but they're all separate entities, not a continuing story. They go back in time, but they're not about the same people... well, not exactly. In each story there is an Erik (or Eric, Eirikr, etc), and a Merle (or Melle), and they're basically reincarnations of the original King and Queen - the King was sacrificed because of poor crops and his last words to his wife were that he'd live seven lives, this was only the first, and he'd find her in each one. That's chapter number seven. And it just makes you want to go back and read the whole thing over again!

The Erik from chapter one, his surname was Seven. I didn't really make much of that until the epilogue when we meet him again: Erik Seven. And I was like, WHOA! Because he IS the 7th Erik! Dude :D

I loved all the chapters, there were no dull bits here. The one set in 2073 was fun without being insanely, overly futuristic - the only real technological advancement is this little app everyone has called OneDegree, based on the Six Degrees of Separation idea. Basically, you check in with it and it "bumps" if there's anyone around you that you might be close to - someone knows a neighbour, went to school with a workmate, etc. With the idea that you can make conversation with them... which okay, not so much my cup of tea. But it's still a cool idea. In 2073, Erik's a journalist who's gone to Blessed Island to investigate this potential illegal drug-ring... there's these orchids, see, which only grow there and they have some pretty amazing properties. And the island seems to have no commerce - certainly not tourism, he's given a house to live in for free as there are no inns or anything. It's all very small and quaint and old-fashioned. There, Erik meets Merle and it's love at first sight...

The orchids, and the potent tea brewed on the island, are another recurring theme. That tea is intense, cures all ails and slows aging as well. Oh and in 2073 there are no children around, and the youngest person is at least 30, which made me think of The Declaration which I just read!

In 2011 there's an archeological dig, and Erik is a teenager (son of Merle) who lives on the island, who got whacked on the head at a young age. In 1944 he's a man who reluctantly helps a downed airman escape the enemy (airman's daughter Merle looks like his own daughter, who died when a bomb fell on their shed)... in 1902 he's a crotchetty old hermit painter, who is befriended by a young girl, Merle.

In 1848 there's a twist. (view spoiler)

The vampire chapter, in the 10th century, was suitably frightening... real, scary, killer vampires (well, vampire) who do not sparkle, who are dangerous and frightening and not to be messed with. Marcus Sedgwick does vampires really well - this chapter has all the same dark charm as My Swordhand is Singing.

I've raved about this book so much now I almost feel like I should be giving it five stars! But it's not quite my favourite. It's still excellent and I loved it, but I think some of the chapters felt a bit short... now I do love those quick reads that I can fiinish in a night, but at the same time this book would have been even more awesome with say another hundred pages.

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01/30/2012 page 39
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