Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Review of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

I have never read a book quite like Midwinterblood and I don’t think I ever will. The plot, themes, setting, characters, and writing style are all very unique, but work amazingly well together. I highly recommend this book for both young adult and adult readers for a quick, but extremely intense read. 


Series: None!

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5 stars


Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.


I have never read a book quite like Midwinterblood and I don’t think I ever will. The plot, themes, setting, characters, and writing style are all very unique, but work amazingly well together. I highly recommend this book for both young adult and adult readers for a quick, but extremely intense read.

Although it is extremely unique, this book does remind me quite a bit of another book I’ve read before… unfortunately, I can’t put my finger on exactly which book I’m thinking of. It might be The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, or Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, but most likely it’s Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (sorry, I can’t say why without giving major plot points away).

I love love love the writing style of this book. First of all, a brief explanation of the concept of Midwinterblood is in order. Very brief, because this book relies very heavily on mystery and surprise.

Midwinterblood is about an island called Blessed. There are rumors that something strange is occurring on this island, since it is very isolated from the rest of the world and the people living there seem to keep on living for much longer than normal. The root of this “immortality” comes from a powerful orchid that looks like a dragon, which only grows on one side of the island. But this is only the surface of the many strange things spiraling around the island of Blessed.

One story is told through seven separate accounts. One setting, seven main characters, seven time periods (ranging from 2073 to unknown time before the 10th century, going in backwards chronological order). What I loved about this original book organization was that it made the book extremely easy to read in a short amount of time. Of course, the book is split into these seven sections, each about 30-40 pages long, but within each section, the chapters are also very short, causing me to fly through this book (just one more chapter…just one more story… I’m almost done I can’t stop now!).

But each story is not its own individual tale. Midwinterblood in no way reads like an anthology. Instead, they all connect to each other and flow into each other perfectly, going backwards in time and always filling in the backstory until finally revealing the root of all the tales, and the answers to the many mysteries of the entire book.

The title of this book, along with a major part of the story, revolves around this painting, entitled Midvinterblot, by Carl Larsson:

Besides the original organizational style, the actual writing style intrigued me too. When each character changed, the point of view and verb tense sometimes also changed. For example, the first part, entitled “Midsummer Sun,” is about Eric Seven, and is written like this:

“The sun does not go down. This is the first thing that Eric Seven notices about Blessed Island. There will be many other strange things that he will notice, before the forgetting takes hold of him, but that will come later.”

While in contrast, a later section, “The Vampire,” reads like this:

“I am old now. I am old now, and the things that happened under the weak light of the snow moon when I was a little girl have drifted far downstream. And yet, when I close my eyes, I see it all before me, once more.”

As you can see, not only do the characters change, but the writing style changes to fit those characters. Well done Marcus Sedgwick–I loved everything about this book!

And the ending of this book. The big reveal. Is not one I’m going to reveal here. All I’ll say is that I gasped, repeated “oh my god” many times, and had a very large “ah ha” (or “oo-ahh” as my favorite teacher Mr. Greenwald would say) moment. Suddenly everything makes sense, and you realize how much is hinted at throughout the book. In fact, I had an urge to re-read the book from the beginning again, just to fully appreciate all the subtle foreshadowing. Even the first paragraph is packed full of it!

This is most certainly not the last time I will be reading Midwinterblood! An amazing, gripping tale of just about everything a YA or adult fiction, fantasy, mystery, paranormal, etc. fan could wish for!

(This book counts for the School YA Bingo Challenge in the category “A Book Set in the Past.”)


4 comments on “Gwen’s Review of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

  1. Kileh Friedman
    June 6, 2015

    Wow! Sounds like a great read. I think I will add that to my list. Going to the library book sale today. Maybe it will be there.

  2. Peter
    June 6, 2015

    Now you must read THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN. Also, did you look up the real painting, Midvinterblot?

    • gwenkate
      June 7, 2015

      Ghosts of Haven looks amazing and has been added to my to-read list!! Yes I have looked up the real painting — thanks for the reminder, I meant to add an image of it in my post.
      Thanks Peter! Gwen

  3. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge FINALE!! | Gwen & Kate's Library

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 5, 2015 by in Adult, Author: Gwen, Favorites, Review, School YA Bingo Challenge, Young Adult and tagged , .
%d bloggers like this: