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First published December 21, 2021
I was coming to have some understanding of why I might be afflicted by everything always happening to me. Part of it was surely my longstanding friendship with Mr Dart, whose magic would be seeking ways out into the world.
And part of it was apparently because I'd been cursed by a fairy whom my mother had for whatever reason not invited to my christening. [loc. 676]
Winterturn in notoriously dull Ragnor Bella: snow is falling, greenery is gathered, and solstice traditions that keep the dark at bay are, perhaps, rather less metaphorical than usual. Plum Duff feels more ... epic, perhaps, than earlier novels in the Greenwing and Dart series. There is a lost god; there are several saints; the Hunter in the Green appears (and this one is definitely a divinity, not a cosplayer); there are visions of the legendary past, and a siege by the powers of darkness. Also, Jemis is literally a fairytale princess.
I did enjoy this, but not quite as much as the cosier, more mannerist novels earlier in the series. Jemis is still solving puzzles, of course (I especially liked the scene where he diffidently mentions to Mrs Etaris that he's guessed her secret identity) and Mr Dart is finally opening up about his magic and the events of the summer. The Gentry, or the Good Neighbours, or whatever you want to call them, are seldom seen but very much present in this novel: in stories about Jemis' christening, in Mr Dart's two-tailed fox friend, in the gifts of live birds left for Jemis, and in the siege of the Lady's chapel on the longest night. There is an increasingly important religious aspect to these novels. Plum Duff explores faith, spiritual experience, and the simplicity of grace: again, I'm reminded of Bujold's Five Gods, and Penric's personal relationship with his god.
And now, woe! I have run out of Greenwing and Dart... the seventh novel is due soon, though. Meanwhile, I have a little list of as-yet-unresolved plot threads, and am noticing that several relate to middle-aged women not being where they're supposed to be. Ingrid, Flora, Magistra Bellamy ...