Midwinterblood is a novel made up of seven mysteriously interconnected short stories, lyrical in tone and tinged with suspense and horror. It recently won the 2014 Printz Award for best Young Adult Book of the Year, and in this reviewer’s opinion, it definitely lives up to the hype.
The novel opens in the year 2073 as journalist Eric Seven travels to a remote Scandinavian island. He’s been assigned to investigate an exotic flower found only on Blessed Isle, rumored to be the secret to the islanders’ longevity. Eric meets Merle, one of the islanders, and though he’s never seen her before, he feels he already knows her. With each short story the book moves backward in time, all the way back to the ninth century, touching on themes of reincarnation, fate, and love as the author follows Eric and Merle’s relationship through the ages.
If you prefer books with strong, well-rounded characters and a straightforward plot, Midwinterblood might not be for you: Eric and Merle are more like archetypes than living, breathing human beings, and the story is plotted in an experimental fashion. Despite the lack of a traditional plot structure, Midwinterblood is quite suspenseful. You’ll want to keep reading to see how everything connects, and Sedgwick’s terse, dread-inducing writing style will compel you to keep turning the page.