The Indescribable Excellence of Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood

Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood is one of those books that defies review because if you discuss any element of its plot, you start chipping away at the mystery and suspense that make it such a gripping read. Here’s the most I’m comfortable relating: For its first few pages, Midwinterblood seems like it might be a romance and it is, but in absolutely none of the ways that you’d expect.

Midwinterblood presents a series of episodic narratives tied together in ways that only become apparent as you get deeper and deeper into their midst. Sedgwick flexes tremendous authorial muscle throughout, deftly changing gears and utilizing a wide variety of aesthetic structures, each as tight and effective as any other, all of them bound together by tonal undercurrents and Sedgwick’s page-turning prose.

Though none of the particulars are similar, Midwinterblood brings to mind Christopher Nolan’s Memento, another high-concept work that fused a creative premise with a perfectly crafted, brilliantly executed presentation. And just like Memento burrowed into my high school brain so that I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to watch it over and over, so too has Midwinterblood invaded my adult mind with its layered narrative, rich symbolism and expertly resolved dramatic tensions. I only read Midwinterblood for the first time a few months ago; I just read it again and I’m already looking forward to next time. It’s that kind of book. Which, come to think of it, is a better review than any plot summary would have been.

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