Midwinterblood – Marcus Sedgewick

Spanning ten centuries, this is an epic tale of love and sacrifice. The book starts in 2073 when Eric Seven sets off on a plane ride to investigate the island of Blessed where the rumour is that the inhabitants never age and no children are born.  Unknown to Eric, this is the final leg that started centuries before, when he and his true love Merle, were brutally sacrificed.  With his dying breath, Eric makes a pledge to Merle – “I will live seven times and I will look for you and love you in each life. Will you follow?”

The book is divided into seven sections, ending with an epilogue. Each segment is named after the different cycles of the moon and is a complete, haunting, stand-alone, short story in its own right.  All lives are subtly linked together and set on this beautiful but sinister island.  Typical of Sedgewick in that nothing is as it seems, where there are no rules and no-one is safe.  Everything in the story comes full cycle; like the moon and the seasons there is a beginning and an inevitable end.

The painting itself started life inspired by the mythological story of the Swedish Viking King Domalde, who Sedgewick also uses as Eric’s first incarnation and, like the painting, all the pieces come together in an ornate crescendo of colour and character finishing in a grand finale.  I love the little subtle touches the author puts into his writing, such as putting the artist who created the painting, Carl Larsson, into the story as Eric Carlsson, along with  the rejection letter he received at the time for the painting.

Marcus Sedgewick is a master craftsman, carefully building up the layers of tension like the layers of oil paint on the painting that inspired him, until you are captivated by this gripping story. Each section has its own unique voice, be it futuristic, spy thriller or Gothic vampire, chilling you to the bone and giving you goosebumps.  Fans of Sedgewick will not be disappointed and this will certainly win over new followers.

Published by Indigo, the YA section of Orion publishing, and out on the 6th October 2011.

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