There's something so amazingly unnerving about this book, yet I just couldn't put it down. I just knew that I had to find out what happened at the end, going backwards in time with each short story linked together. If you want something unique, dark, and luminously beautiful with brilliant language and imagery that will make your eyes plead for more, "Midwinterblood" is most certainly your kind of book!
I think the largest issue I had with this book was its sparseness - it was both the best and the most problematic issue of the book. While Sedgwick definitely has a way with sensory imagery and language, its sparseness both contributed to the charm of this story, and of all the characters and how they related towards each other as well as the past.
He can describe so much in only a few words, I feel like he could have poured more detail into some of the characters and world just a little bit more and still retain how tastefully dark this book was.
However. The language itself was nothing short of dream-like whatsoever. I plowed through the entire book in one (yes, ONE) sitting. It definitely seduced me and it's a breath of fresh air in the young adult genre, that's certainly for sure. I was immediately sucked into Merle/Eric/Tors worlds across time of how everything related to each other, and I couldn't get enough.
The ending was a bit abrupt, but for me, it worked quite a bit considering how Sedgwick shaped this book. There's a lot of weighted mood here, a lot of pain, but all of it is shaped into something thats absolutely beautiful.
Though the story as a whole itself is very complex when put together at the end, the base of the world and the characters themselves are very simply built. No over complicated overwrought characters fighting in a love triangle like so many novels I have read lately.
The characters act simply, and though the seven stories help us understand their motives better, theyre generally very simple in all aspects even throughout all seven of their lifetimes. It was such a breath of fresh air. The great thing is that even younger students will enjoy this book because it's so easy to follow. Yet at the same time, it's extremely intense.
We follow a set of people throughout a few thousand years of time, not keeping one single gender the whole way through, and their interactions do change from lifetime to lifetime. Its themes are also rather simple: separation, forgetting and remembering, reincarnation, and acceptance (as Erik consistently mentions throughout the book as, "And so it is"). But all of it is woven together into a plot so tight you'll want to keep turning the pages whilst youre meant to be asleep!
There's not a lot of happiness in this book. There's a lot of painful reality, even for a mystical reality genre book. There's a lot of gloom, a lot of human darkness, and a focus of studying the failings of humans; especially in regards to how they take care of each other in a social setting. This is not a light, fluffy book (but that's what we need more of in the young adult genre).
It makes you think.
It makes you work for the final answer you find in the epilogue, even though it's so simply constructed.
There's a lot of soul-searching (quite literally) that goes on in this book, and a lot of characters being used as symbols. And bringing together ALL of the aforementioned into one story? Not easy. Not easy at all. Yet it all worked, and worked spectacularly like clockwork.
So I have to take my hat off to Sedgwick for constructing such a wonderful story.
Final verdict? This is the perfect book if you're feeling a bit moody or you want to explore the idea of humanity as very faulty creatures.