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The Returning

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  892 ratings  ·  213 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)
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Average rating 3.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  892 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tatiana by: Melina Marchetta, Megan Whalen Turner
4.5 stars

I understand many readers don’t like stories that stray away from formula or predictable fantasy narrative structures, but 3.13 stars average for this lovely collection of vignettes about the effects of war on people’s lives? It hurts! This is hardly an experimental, hard-to-comprehend book. I personally loved that stories felt so intimate and small while being at the same time so large in scope when taken as one whole. Masterfully done, IMO. Why isn’t Christine Hinwood writing anything
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
Jul 02, 2011 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. Fantas
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
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
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 25, 2009 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
May 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 21c, australian, fantasy, teen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2011 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
Maria Kramer
Mar 28, 2012 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
Maureen E
Oct 31, 2011 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
Dec 01, 2014 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, (th
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With positive blurbs by both Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta, it is no wonder that I loved this quiet, character-driven book. Not exactly a novel, and more like a collection of stories of a core group of young adults in a rural village struggling with the after-effects of war as well as their own passages from child to adult. Each chapter could really stand alone as a short story, but taken together, the threads between characters and stories amplifies the emotion and meaning in the sto ...more
Sep 18, 2011 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 13, 2012 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
Kyle Sweeney
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
A story that really could have been a lot more simple. The books intent, or at least what I thought. Was to show the impact of war on the men who fought in it, and those who returned, as well as the people affected by the chaos. However, the book is told from multiple perspectives, it's really hard to grasp a understanding of many of the characters because their stories are so short and there is so many, yet the main characters Cam and his sister Pin are also a mystery. Cam's motives for what he ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Hrmm. The Returning is masterfully told, with language and details of everyday life that make the setting come alive. The story is unusual for young adult fiction, exploring how people's identities, political and personal, shift after regime change. I found it a refreshing alternative to the "courageous teens save the world" sensibility of some young adult fiction.

However, I found the second half of this book disappointing. The unconventional pacing and structure didn't work for me, alienating m
Mar 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Gave up at 54 pages because it was so impossibly dull. I tried to read the last chapter because Melina Marchetta's blurb said the last chapter made her cry from start to finish, but that was too boring to finish too.
Jennessa B
it was a great book
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2012 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
Feb 16, 2012 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
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
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: map-in-the-front
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2012 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
Aug 13, 2013 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
Nov 09, 2011 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
Dec 17, 2011 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
Feb 19, 2012 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
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.
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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

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