Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

midwinterbloodBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2013
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 262 pages; 22 cm
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice. Retrieved from http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250040077
  • ISBN: 978-1-59643-800-2
  • Subjects:
    • Reincarnation – Fiction
    • Mythology – Fiction
    • Cults – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation:  Where I have seen her before?  Why do I feel like I’ve known her forever?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/IbMwHdTrcfc

Plot Summary:  Two souls travel through time in many different incarnations centered on a place called Blest Island, always finding and then losing each other, only to be born again and start the story over.  Eric and Merle, sometimes mother and son, sometimes lovers, sometimes siblings, but always searching or holding onto the other.  The book starts with Eric who is a journalist in 2073 coming to a strange island to do a story about a plant and meets Merle a beautiful girl who lives there.   From that meeting the book moves backwards in time, each section detailing a different life the two had experienced together.  In 2011, Eric is a boy and Merle is his mother, whereas in the next era (1944) Eric is the father and Merle is daughter who died when she was only twelve.  The next era was in 1902, Eric was an aging, rich and formally famous artist and Merle is a little girl who saves his life and becomes a feature in his last painting.  The story from 1848 is about two ill-fated lover of the same names and a ghost who tells their story.  Further back in time, the next tale is set in the 10th century, when they were brother and sister haunted by a creature that had been their uncle or perhaps, father.  Finally, the story goes back to the beginning and resolves the relationship between the final Eric and Merle.

Critical Evaluation:  This is an unusual book in that is has more in common with a collection of short-stories than it does with a novel.  There is an overarching theme that runs through the stories but they are all different.  The writing is good and very poetic in style and tone, and the stories are interesting.  But the book fails for me because the stories are each so interesting that I would like to see them in a more complete form than they are presented.  There is also the recurring element’s which seem significant but whose importance are not explained such as the hare’s and hare related artifacts that appear in each story.  And of course, the dragon imagery which is also seen in the form of an orchid that plays an important role in some of the stories.  All in all, the book is good but at the same time, unsatisfying.  You always feel as if you are missing a part of the story and want a more complete resolution.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of “The Heart of Another” – inspired by Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Of his story, Sedgwick says, “This was one of those stories that I thought might be a novel originally but actually was much better suited to the tight form of the short story. I had the initial idea some years ago but was just waiting for the right ingredient to come along. Poe’s story, as well as his own fascination with technique, provided that final piece of the puzzle.”  Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/110234.Marcus_Sedgwick

Genre Designation: Horror

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Poetry
  • Mythology

Book Talk Ideas: What would make you want to be reborn as a another person?  Who would you come back to be with?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected.  This is a very popular book at my library, so much so that it was ‘lost’ and I had to buy another copy.


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