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Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip

Review by Kelanin

The Dust-Jacket text:

"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 rumours filled the heavy air of summer.

In the woods that border Lynn Hall, free-spirited Rois Melior roams wild and barefooted in search of healing herbs. She is as hopelessly unbridled - and unsuited for marriage - as her betrothed sister Laurel is domestic. In Corbet's pale green eyes, Rois senses a desperate longing. In her restless dreams, mixed with the heady warmth of harvest wine, she hears him beckon. And as autumn gold fades, Rois is consumed with Corbet Lynn, obsessed with his secret past - until, across the frozed countryside and in flight from her own imagination, truth and dreams become inseparable...

The Review:

Winter Rose is written in McKillips usual fluid, heady prose. It is perhaps the most dream-like of all her works. Because dreams are a part of the progression of the story and the melding of dream and reality so integral to the plot, McKillip's ability to make us a part of the dreamer is an essential element in the enjoyment of this book. There are moments in reading this book that we become so absorbed in the fabric of the tale that we have to shake ourselves awake and remove ourselves from the spaces between the words. Few authors have this much power in their writing.

This is an a-typical book in the Fantasy genre.... it is not an epic... it is not an heroic quest. The characters are well defined.... deceptively mundane and real. Rois is a wonderful heroine whose longing for the woods (and freedom) become palpable, who's insatiable desire to understand Corbet... to reconcile what her eyes see with what others see consumes her entirely. The underlying romance of the story is easily the strongest thread in the here and yet it doesn't overwhelm the fantastic nature of what is happening.

The mystery of Lynn Hall and what happened years ago form a perfect back-drop for the arrival of Corbet Lynn. Each piece of gossip, each new wrinkle in some oldster's memory of that fateful day propels us forward. McKillip is rarely predictable, her outcomes never a guarantee. Winter Rose is perhaps her Hallmark piece to date. Poetic, dream-like, romantic, and compelling, it is a must read.

The cover art by Kinuko Craft captures the mood of the story perfectly.

5 amulets out of 5. One of my favorite books of all time.

---Kelanin the Icefalcon

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