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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
I read this to my daughter at bedtime over a period of about 5 weeks and was surprised with how quickly she engaged with this novel. The story of Erik and Merle and their seven lives is a novel that plays with the usual order of narrative by reversing it. Little coincidences, explanations, clues and new questions are spread throughout the book. Although we meet the two...
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by D. Pearce

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A unique read but still only an okay one
It's 2073 and Eric Seven is a journalist visiting the remote Swedish island of Blessed to investigate claims that no one there ages and the local population do not have children. Initially welcomed by the community, he strikes up a friendship with a young local woman called Merle. Soon he becomes aware that there's more to the island than meets the eye and particularly...
Published on 20 Nov 2011 by I Read, Therefore I Blog


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 7 Oct 2011
By 
D. Pearce "djarmhp" (rainham, kent) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read this to my daughter at bedtime over a period of about 5 weeks and was surprised with how quickly she engaged with this novel. The story of Erik and Merle and their seven lives is a novel that plays with the usual order of narrative by reversing it. Little coincidences, explanations, clues and new questions are spread throughout the book. Although we meet the two protagonists as lovers (?) in the first section, the following sections have them as mother and child, artist and muse and twins among other relationships. Marcus Sedgwick explores the many different types of love in a way that is truthful and accessible to young readers. When you first start reading this book you may find it difficult to follow, but please persevere. What you will discover is an elegaic and thought provoking book that works on many different levels. Congratulations to Marcus Sedgwick for not treating his audience with any patronising assumptions of what they can understand. He has written a book that says, 'I will give you clues but I won't give you all the answers and I won't even ask all the questions.' That is as refreshing as it is unusual and this book could become a phenomenon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic love story like no other, 9 Nov 2011
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
I've been told that Marcus Sedgwick is a bit of a Rock Star in person and if his books are anything to go by then I have no doubt in my mind that his rock status is safe. I'd been told many times just how great his writing is and it wasn't until this book came up on the UK Book Tours that I decided to dip my toe into this writers pool of work. The book goes over several generations, time periods from the future to distant past and lives but the setting remains the same, The Blessed Island. With touches of Lost in the strangeness of the paradise, the island holds secrets in its people and history that lingers over this story. Each short story jumps further and further back in time as we slowly piece together the mysteries of the island and the secrets within it that have touched each lifetime, how and why. Each tale is like a bubble of the past that you get to jump into and explore and Marcus Sedgwick makes the past come alive with the characters and his style of deliciously elegant writing.

I just loved this book because it appealed to the romantic and the supernatural mystery enthusiast in me. It's a love story that for use starts in 2073 as Eric and Merle have a bold attraction to each other that has a sense of danger and passion but for no clear cut reason as to why. It's intense and dramatic and as each phase ends at a high drama moment we are left reeling and clinging on further into the past to discover the truth in Eric and Merle as we meet them to start with. The common links and symbols in each tale are like little breadcrumb clues left by the author to follow as we go and try as work out the mystery of the dragon like flower that holds magical potent power and healing qualities, the continual appearance of names and figures in the past on this one island and bonds that seem to last generations.

To start I was wary of the jumps in the time frame because you really connect to the characters you meet only to have to leave them behind. Sometimes without much resolve in their story line and questions that haven't really been explained much less answered but with patience comes results. We gradually piece together the answers in the past and the threads in the island's woven legends show their colours and how the lives of Eric and Merle are more than just the people we meet in 2073 at the start.

This darkened romance with an outstanding twist is brutal in its attack on your emotions and senses and I cherished every page. I want to read all of Marcus Sedgwick back catalogue as soon as I can after reading this one book. I can't believe I haven't started reading his work sooner because it's brilliant. The writing is like a song that haunts you mind for days to come and even with the dark overtones and gothic like style there is light and hopefulness in the telling. All that's left for me to do is to try and hold out till pay day to buy more of his books.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A unique read but still only an okay one, 20 Nov 2011
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's 2073 and Eric Seven is a journalist visiting the remote Swedish island of Blessed to investigate claims that no one there ages and the local population do not have children. Initially welcomed by the community, he strikes up a friendship with a young local woman called Merle. Soon he becomes aware that there's more to the island than meets the eye and particularly its headman, Tor, but the more he drinks the strange tea given to him by the locals, the more he forgets his reason for coming ...

The events encountered by Eric Seven are part of a cycle started a thousand years earlier when a king and queen were cruelly ripped apart by the demands of their society. Eric and Merle are trapped in a pattern that will be repeated for eternity unless Eric and Merle can find a way of breaking it ...

Marcus Sedgewick's novel is an interesting experiment in cyclical story patterns and unusually for a children's book, features more adult characters than child characters. I liked the way that the narrative traverses such a wide period of time and there is no faulting the scope of the storytelling here or Sedgewick's inventiveness in using recurring motifs such as the strange tea that his characters drink, hares and of course the characters of Merle and Eric. I also liked the way in which Segewick incorporates real items, such as the Midwinterblood painting in the National Museum of Sweden.

The problem for me though is that this is a peculiarly slow story, made the more so because of the repetitiveness of certain elements. Ultimately I found it very difficult to feel close to either of the key characters enough to care about what happens to them and many of the stories have a bleak or sad ending, which ties in with the key themes of love and sacrifice but makes for a downbeat experience.

There are some good individual scenes - my favourites being the relationship between the painter and a young girl and the incorporation of a vampire storyline, which is really chilling. But the scene set in 2073 conversely didn't feel `futuristic' enough to convince.

If this book was by any writer other than Marcus Sedgewick I wouldn't feel so disappointed by it but when judged in comparison to his other books, it's an okay read rather than a great one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 20 April 2013
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Kindle Edition)
Midwinterblood is the first Marcus Sedgwick book that I have read and I loved it. The storyline is clever and gets you thinking as to what is going to happen. A thoroughly thought-provoking book. If you like mystery and love with a slight touch of horror then this book is for you. The plot twists and turns throught tossing up similarities and connections throughout. I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Gothic, 6 Feb 2013
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Paperback)
Midwinterblood is a cleverly constructed and deliciously dark read. Using reverse chronology it begins in June 2073, on remote Blessed Island, where journalist Eric Seven has travelled to research a story on the islanders who are rumoured to live forever. Divided into seven sections, we hear of seven different stories over the ages right back to Time Unknown. The link in each story is Eric, in various incarnations, and his connection with a girl called Merle who seems to elude him over the centuries.

I was quickly drawn into this tense, atmospheric tale told in stark, simple prose. There are echoes of The Wicker Man with suspicious islanders and the outsider, Eric, but he isn't really an outsider and as you read on, you discover his link with the island. Love, reincarnation, mortality, sacrifice, family ties, fate, symbolism, nature - there's a lot of food for thought here all wrapped in a gloriously gothic style.

This is a story you will want to read again as soon as you have turned the final page. A Young Adult read which will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a story you will soon forget, 19 Oct 2011
By 
Book Angel Emma (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my first foray into the YA world of Marcus Sedgwick the only other book I have read of his is Flood and Fang - review here. I must say this will not be my last; I have heard amazing things about Marcus Sedgwick's writing and was not in the least bit disappointed.

I will admit that I started the book without reading the synopsis; I only saw the word soul mates mentioned and knew I had to read it. So there I was reading away thinking myself so clever for working out that the story featured reincarnated souls of Eric and Merle when I decided to read the synopsis and there it was in black and white that yes indeed they were the souls of Eric and Merle reincarnated *headesk*. I always pray for a happy ending - the words They All Lived Happily Ever After - would be a dream come true for me. So I was rooting for Eric and Merle to have their happy ending right from the start.

The way in which the book is divided into 7 sections alongside Eric's name being Eric Seven is very clever and implants the idea of the seven lives immediately. The timeline for each story works its way back to the first incarnation of Eric and Merle before returning to the present day. The ingenious use of details from within each story woven into the next showing their origins were an utterly magnificent piece of storytelling.

Stunning use of what can be imagined as Norse Mythology woven into the plot re-enforced by the remote island scenery. The name of the island itself is significant within the plot. The way in which the name of the island is significant at each point in time. The meanings of the name at the different time periods in history added to the plot and helped the imagination of the dialects. Although the pronunciation remained the same the meanings and spelling were so very different. Amazing.

I am probably going to show my lack of intellect now by telling you that I didn't really understand the ending. Don't get me wrong I appreciated it and the completeness it provided to the story. But I didn't really understand why it had to be that way and it was completely bittersweet. Not an ending you will forget in a hurry.

If you are looking for masterful storytelling then this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic romance, 17 Oct 2011
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
Midwinterblood felt like several different stories of the same event...which basically it was. Sometimes a gothic horror, at others a tender romance, Midwinterblood takes you on a dangerous adventure with vampires, Vikings and forbidden love.

The story begins with Eric Seven, cynical journalist investigating the magical properties of Blessed Island where no one ages and there are no children. Eric struggles to keep his wits about him as he slowly succumbs to the...charm of the island and its inhibitors. When he meets Merle, it is love at first sight and even if he doesn't understand it, he knows that it is right. What he doesn't know is that he has met Merle before. Many times before. Sometimes as a friend, a mother or a lover. Their souls are connected, destined to find each other in each new life.

Marcus Sedgewick writes with simple, lyrical prose that somehow makes the horror he shows bloody and beautiful all at the same time. His plot is genius, beginning the story a the end and working his way back. It could have been a disaster. Instead it was amazing.

Fan of Sedgewick's edgy writing will love his latest work of triumph, and while this one in particular would be better suited for the older end of the YA spectrum, I have no doubt that adults of all ages will adore this book. I know I did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars creepy, 9 Oct 2011
By 
Kirsty at the Overflowing Library (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
Midwinterblood is everything I have come to expect from a Marcus Sedgwick book. It's creepy, clever and keeps with you long after you finish reading it. Oh and you need to read every page before the whole thing finally clicks into place and fully makes sense.

The book is told in sections, each section going back in time from the one before it. I found this way of story telling to be really unusual and a clever way of telling a story. Getting the little snippets throughout time meant you started to get an overview and started to see a pattern of the story as a whole.

There is a main story that runs through the whole book which you start to find more and more out about as the story unfolds itself as you delve deeper into the history of the downright sinister island where it is set.

It's hard to say exactly what this book is about without giving too much away about the plot line. Needless to say the story itself twists in turns in way I never saw coming and the storyline is so interesting that it kept me reading page after page. It plays with the ideas of past lives and what a person is willing to sacrifice for someone they love.

Another awesome offering which encompasses everything I have come to expect from a Marcus Sedgwick and well worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, haunting and unlike anything else I've read, 5 Oct 2011
By 
Mrs. B. S. Kemp "Beth Kemp" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
This book gripped me instantly. I read it over three days of a very busy working week, which says a lot on its own. I'm not going to leave it there though *grin*. The novel has superb writing and makes intelligent use of folklore/myth, so it was always going to be a winner for me. I still managed to be surprised by just how fantastic it was though. I read recently somewhere that Marcus Sedgwick spends a long time planning (I think I read months), and this book is testament to that degree of careful thought.

The novel as a whole is like an orchestral suite, with different movements all sharing a key theme and a set of motifs which flow through the whole, adding cohesion and providing (I'm sure) satisfying recognition on re-reading. As always, Sedgwick's prose is relatively sparse yet beautifully lyrical. He doesn't waste words, nor does he need to use complex vocabulary to weave a clever story.

A particularly effective aspect of the opening story was the Wicker Man-style creepy vibe. This helps build the sense of inevitability which propels us through all the stories back to the beginning of it all. The trailer conveys this dark and spooky tone brilliantly.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and it's a real contender for the best book I've read this year. I think it's worth saying that, for all the 'doomed lovers' stuff implied in the blurb, it's not a 'romance' title. Also, as an Indigo publication, it's being targeted at the Young Adult market, but I think there's life in it as a literary chiller for adults too.

My grateful thanks go to Orion for providing me with a proof copy of this wonderful book for review.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 28 Oct 2011
This review is from: Midwinterblood (Hardcover)
I have to admit this is my first Marcus Sedgewick book I have read. All I can say is, WHY, why is this me just getting around to reading his books? I can assure you it won't be my last, I am fast gathering his back catalogue and I recommend you do so now.

Midwinterblood is a fantastic book, it kept me turning the page and staying up late, way into the wee hours, I just could not put it down. Marcus Sedgewick is right up there with the great story tellers, his writing flows along and has you mesmerised.

The book is about two characters Eric and Merle in various sections within seven different stories, each intertwines with their different types of relationships from mother and son, to lovers, brother and sister, etc. Starting in the future and working it's way back to the 10th century. The layers created throughout the story is so well done, it's incredible. The backdrop of the different time frames give depth to the stories, all of which could be told separates but which intertwine perfectly.

Take my advice and read this book, you will love it, I can guarantee. It's something a little different, but an easy read. You will laugh and cry and want to read every one of his books.
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Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Paperback - 3 May 2012)
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