By: Patricia A. McKillip
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Sorrow and trouble and bitterness will hound you and yours and the children of yours…
Some said the dying words of Nial Lynn, murdered by his own son, were a wicked curse. To others, it was a winter’s tale spun by firelight on cold, dark nights. But when Corbet Lynn came to rebuild his family estate, memories of his grandfather’s curse were rekindled by young and old–and rumors filled the heavy air of summer. In the woods that border Lynn Hall, free-spirited Rois Melior roams wild and barefooted. And as autumn gold fades, she is consumed with Corbet Lynn, obsessed with his secret past…
As regular readers of my blog have noticed, I’ve been slowly getting around to Patricia A. McKillip’s books–from In the Forests of Serre (review) to Alphabet of Thorn (review), I’ve been highly enjoying her novels, the way she transports her readers to these fantastical, luscious worlds. I forgot how I ended up especially interested by this novel but I picked it up earlier this year. Having just finished my exams and the weather outside turning into a fully-fledged winter wonderland, this novel was perfect. Contains some spoilers ahead! (under a nifty new spoiler tag plugin I just downloaded for WP)
What can I say about this novel? Beautiful, magical, haunting, epic…It was pretty much everything about fantasy that I love. The story pretty much grabbed my attention from the first sentence: “They said later that he rode into the village on a horse the color of buttermilk, but I saw him walk out of the wood.”
The writing makes up a large part of what I loved about this novel. McKillip’s writing in general is very lyrical but it stands out more so in this novel and adds to the magic of the overall story. Her descriptions of the endless winters, the flowers falling and bursting, the way Corbet draws Rois’ attention or the mystery and life of the forests Rois loves–they are just so vivid and poetic and really gives the reader a sense of the tone of the story, the world that Rois lives in and the strange things that are happening as winter progresses. Much as I could not put this book down because I needed to know what happened next, I also found myself pausing every now and then and just savouring the sentences. I can’t even say what my favourite sentence was because it was just that good from start to finish.
The story itself was very interesting as we follow Rois and the mystery behind Corbet Lynn. The Lynn family has certainly raised a lot of attention to themselves with the curse and the disappearance of Nial Lynn’s son. Like Rois, the reader finds themselves navigating through the hearsay and the memories of some of the older members of the village, trying to figure out what truth lies behind these stories or whether or not the story is merely a winter’s tale. Corbet is an elusive character and the deeper Rois goes, the more questions are raised, both about Corbet and his family but also about herself and her own heritage.
The characters were also interesting in their own way. I did find it frustrating how it did feel like a love triangle at one point between Corbert, Rois and her sister Laurel (the practical, prettier sister)–I wanted Rois to have the love story for herself, especially as it was affecting Laurel’s relationship with her fiance–but in the grander scheme of the story, there is a reason to why it developed the way it did. Rois is a daydreamer but her determination to find out about Corbet–and get to the bottom as to why she cared so much about knowing the truth about his background–and ultimately her desire to protect her family was interesting to read and unfold over the course of the novel. She is the heart of the story.
Words cannot express how much I loved Winter Rose, it is just a book to experience for yourself. Definitely one of the best fantasy novels I read this year and one of my favourite books ever.