Endicott Mythic Fiction discussion

Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)
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Ellen I'm new to the group so I probably shouldn't be starting this off but I wanted to write some comments while the book was still fresh in my mind.

I just finished Winter Rose last night. I wandered through its pages for a week even though I could have read it faster. Much of the writing was so beautiful I wanted to take my time and enjoy the simple telling of the tale.

It took me a few chapters to realize that McKillip was weaving parts of the Tam Lin tale into her story. She doesn't hit you over the head with it, she just takes pieces and puts her own spin on them. I liked the fact that it was not a strict retelling of the tale.

The book also reminded me of how isolated and lonely life was for people who lived on farms before the invention of cars to get from place to place. Once winter fell in, they were really on their own. I haven't seen this described so well since reading Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome (one of my favorites).

The relationship between Rois and Laurel is also quite interesting. It was good to see two very different sisters who appreciated and respected their differences instead of being split by them.

I rated this one a 5; a really good choice!

Brittany | 10 comments I finished 'Winter Rose' a little while ago but haven't had a chance until now to sit down and write out my thoughts. The book was my choice so I wanted to be sure to say something at least!

This was, as hoped for, a beautifully written story - the dreamlike language was absolutely enchanting right from page one. I was instantly in a very specific place where wild magic tangled with the mundane world in unexpected and subtle ways. I loved the phrase "where the wild roses grew among the tame" (P.12) - I thought it illustrated this idea perfectly and the line haunted me throughout the story. The book is full of this simple but gorgeous wording and imagery. Poetic language and a certain ambiguity of reality are two things I really love in fiction and I thought both were superbly done here.

I loved the use of the myth of 'Tam Lin' (as Ellen said) but enjoyed the additional mixing in of the fairy tale of 'Snow White and Rose Red' even more. The way that they were woven together was excellently done. I love it when mythic authors choose to take more then one inspiration and McKillip brought to light new things in each of these stories by using both.

I only had one problem with this book but it was a big one. The evil fairy and cause of all the problems of the story was very one dimensional to me. I kept wishing for her to have some sort of purpose behind her actions or at least layers to her personality. She seemed very cookie-cutter "bad guy" and I feel like, while that works in myths and fairy tales and is even perhaps essential there, if you're going to expand those stories you need to make the "bad guys" more than just evil for evil's sake.

I hope those of you that read 'Winter Rose' enjoyed my pick! Though I don't speak up too often, I love being a part of this group :).

Emilie | 69 comments Brittany, i agree with you about the villain. i felt very frustrated with her having no motivation for what she did.
i like the way the story has a dreamlike quality, a felt reality...

but i really got annoyed with mckillip for not developing this important character and giving us reasons for her actions, for me, this took a lot away from the book. yes, evil for evils sake doesnt feel right in a story that has layers and depth in other places. it ends up feeling like a plot device and so not making sense in a feeling kind of way...

i am happy that i read it though. there was a lot to like. i liked the parts that felt like a feverish dream...with reality and dream bleeding into each other, i felt these were the strongest moments. and i really liked the descriptions of the flowers and herblore.

Ellen, i agree with you about finding the relationship between the sisters interesting and liking the way they respected each others differences...

though, there were times when i felt mckillip was not being honest- i mean, its one thing to respect differences and be deeply loving-and its another to fall into a kind of enchanted love, and discover that your engaged sister loves the same man and to not even feel the littlest bit of jealousy or anger- this annoyed me a little, in the same way that it felt overly simplistic, the kind of smoothed over lets hide the flaws and not allow ambivalence that is how i felt the author presented the fairy...

so it was mixed for me...i loved to see their contrasts- and i loved to see them know and care and nurture each others differences- but i felt let down at times, when i felt that rois would naturally or humanly have more complex feelings about this situation....

Reem (reemhkattan) | 49 comments McKillip certainly has a way with words. The story so far is beautifully written and her prose is lyrical. It makes every sentence come to life. I feel like I am in the story experiencing everything that the heroine, Rois, is experiencing with all her senses. I haven't finished the book yet and am barely past page 100 (I am taking it slow) but I am enjoying it thoroughly.

Brittany | 10 comments Emilie, I also agree with two of your points.

I liked what you said about the smoothing over of the feelings between the two sisters, that also bothered me. It was more than a little simplistic to have Rois be reasonably okay with Laurel falling inexplicably for the guy she first loved.

I also agree with your like of the descriptions of flowers and herb lore. For some reason, I really liked having Rois so grounded in that.

message 6: by Ramona (new)

Ramona Gault | 84 comments "Winter Rose" was a delightful discovery for me, so thanks to Brittany! I tend to put a book down if I see a plot weakness or characters that are poorly drawn. This novel is practically flawless, by my estimation. The author had me completely under her spell. The Winter Queen or Faery Queen, who I don't think is ever named, is more a force of Nature than a character with human traits. Yes, even a force of Nature needs some human traits if it is to be an actor in the plot, but as a Faery Queen she lacks human compassion--that's simply a trait of Faery. I surmised that her motivation is to exercise her power however she wishes. However, I sympathize with those who wanted to know more about her motivation. She did seem very arbitrary, not subject to human or faery laws. I applaud Patricia McKillip for creating such strong female characters.

message 7: by Lia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lia (sylvanfae) | 13 comments I found it lyrical in a simple but powerful way. The tale was magical in the way that I know magic (Brittany mentioned the ambiguity of reality and the way wild magic tangled with the mundane in subtle ways - YES!). Beautiful book. I'm glad I it was chosen. I hadn't been in the mood for a fantasy when I began, which the cover gave the impression of, but once I was in, I was hooked! And then I saw the cover better and how it fit the tale... and remembered that I love Kinuko Y. Craft!

I loved spending time in this interesting village, where the relationships were dynamic, customs were echoes of history, and the wood and the seasons were like characters.

Also, this tale was creepier in the "Fey are cold, dangerous alien beings" way that never convinced me not to love them, before. Other books tried. This one was actually creepy! I was unsettled. =) It was awesome. When you can't fathom the motivation of the antagonist, isn't that much more frightening? It does have to be done well...

So I'm going to seek out more McKillip. She seems good at the word-smithing, as well as the atmospheric and complex storytelling. I never knew. Now I do. Thanks Brittany!

message 8: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat | 14 comments Hi. I just finished this book. (I'm sort of reading these books scattered between others and out of order) It is the first thing I've read of McKillip other than a short story. I will be reading more her stuff. In fact I'm about to start Solstice Wood which is supposed to be sort of sequel to this one.

I love this kind of fantasy writing. It is so ethereal and atmospheric it almost put me in a trance. And though I agree with the other reviewers about the antagonist not being well developed, it didn't bother me too much. I was more into the writing than the story.

Reem (reemhkattan) | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Hi. I just finished this book. (I'm sort of reading these books scattered between others and out of order) It is the first thing I've read of McKillip other than a short story. I will be reading m..."
I know, right? She is one of my top five fantasy authors. I like her style and that she mixes Romance with fantasy. Her writing is beautiful and the story was good, but the she didn't explain why the villain was the way she was, who she was, and why she did what she did. It really didn't bother me much either and I am glad the heroine ends up getting the guy in a way. I have read a short story and another one of her books before this. I highly recommend "The Changeling Sea." I loved it.

S. Kay (cobwebs) | 56 comments I really, really enjoy McKillip's style-- her Riddlemaster series was one of my favorites. Winter Rose didn't strike as big a chord in terms of plot... I didn't feel like the characters were fleshed out enough, and thought that Rois' motivation was a little vague. I did enjoy reading it for the descriptions though. I look forward to reading more of her books, since this was the first I'd read outside of McKillip's series.

message 11: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat | 14 comments Reem wrote: "Natalie wrote: "Hi. I just finished this book. (I'm sort of reading these books scattered between others and out of order) It is the first thing I've read of McKillip other than a short story. I w..."

Thanks, I will check out "The Changeling Sea." I already like the title.

message 12: by Roby (new) - rated it 5 stars

Roby (robyotter) Patricia McKillip has been one of my favorite authors for years, now, and I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. I don't tend to reread too often, but I have read this one several times. Tam Lin is also one of my favorite tales.

It's true that the Winter Queen isn't terribly well-developed as a character, but I don't really think she needs to be. She's an archetype more than a character, and it's more important that Rois and Laurel undergo character development, which I think they do.

S. Kay (cobwebs) | 56 comments I think I need to read a Tam Lin tale, Roby.

With Rois and Laurel, I think what frustrated me was that the motivations seemed to be directed solely towards this man. That's hard for me to relate to and less interesting for me to read about. I do agree about the Queen being an archetype though.

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