Sunday, March 22, 2015

What we're reading: Mythic fiction

Marcus Sedgwick's book Midwinterblood is a seven-part story that spans centuries. It begins in 2073 and then hops backwards with each subsequent part, until we see the beginning at the end. When I picked it up, I had no expectations, and indeed didn't know what to make of it at first, except to admire the deceptively simple style. The storytelling is almost dreamlike, with the reader as much under the influence of the writing as the protagonist is under the influence of a mysterious island called, variously, Blessed, Blest, Blod...there are components of legend, old religions, and folklore, yet the writer has made the story completely his own, recombining elements to suit himself. What a fascinating, mesmerizing book it is. A strange island, a dragonflower orchid with life-giving properties, a story of reincarnation, of lovers finding one another throughout the centuries in various, unmatching guises…I was enthralled.

I have to say that I have no idea why the publisher would promote this specifically as a young adult book. It's not that I don't think certain teens would love it (I do), but it seems to me like the kind of book that would appeal to a certain kind of reader as opposed to a reader of a certain age. I would love to hear from teens who liked it, and for them to tell me specifically what they liked about it.

Midwinterblood reminded me a bit of Meg Rosoff's book The Bride's Farewell (one of my faves the year it was published), or of Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, not so much for the specific story as for the feel of it--old, legendary, fey. I look forward to reading others of Sedgwick's books.

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