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Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)
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Book Of the Month Discussion > December 2019 -- Winter Rose -- spoilers allowed

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Mary Catelli | 2644 comments Mod
Free discussion of any element.

Sheryl Tribble | 85 comments I could see the Snow White and Rose Red connection better this time -- in that fable, there's a quiet, at-home sister (Snow White), and a more vigorous one who loves the wilds (Rose Red), who dearly love each other, and in that sense Laurel and Rois fit quite nicely. The two sisters also end the story married, and in some versions the active sister does far more to lead them to those marriages than the more passive one, which the book sort of reflects.

But, as Mary and Wikipedia point out, the book is more closely connected to the Tam Lin fable, with numerous points of connection. I didn't grow up with that one, nor is it a favorite of mine, so I won't comment on that aspect beyond saying that I liked the way the book both used and twisted the betrayal aspect of the original fable.

I still feel like there's things going on that are crucial but I don't get. Or maybe not so crucial -- Rois decides who her "real father" is and I agree with her, but at the same time it's implied that her bloodline father gave her interesting qualities, and I'd like to know how he's related to Corbet's mother. Was he in thrall to her, too? Another heartless creature, as she is, but less interested in manipulation and power over other beings? Are the woods hers alone, or do they "belong" to a number of her people?

I would have liked to get a better grasp of who Corbet really is as well. I know enough of him to believe that he and Rois will end up together and happy, and yet I don't feel I know him at all, even though it's clear Rois somehow does. As I commented to the other thread, I'm not crazy about this book being in first person, and that's part of why.

Rois is an honest narrator, but once in a while I got thrown out of the story wondering how she "knew" something without being an outright mind reader. While the first person perspective helps to keep the reader as confused about reality as Rois is, McKillip doesn't manage to make the other characters as real and rounded to me as authors whose first person perspective I enjoy. I do end up sharing Rois' feelings toward people -- I love Laurel, and their father, and even Corbet, as Rois does -- but their characters seem oddly flat to me.

One aspect I love about McKillip's books is the fact that I generally connect and care about and enjoy, more than one of her characters, and that doesn't happen with this one. Probably just me. A lot of McKillip's long time fans love this book, and according to Wikipedia it was nominated for at least three awards (1997 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature Finalist, 1997 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 1996 Nebula Award). But of her books I've read, this is my least favorite. (Also, how did I not know she'd written a science fiction novel? I need to check that out!)

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