Two souls who long to be reunited through time is in short what Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood is about. It all starts on the mysterious Blessed Island in the year 2073 with journalist Eric Seven visiting the island and intent on writing a story about a place where apparently no children are born and people are rumored to live forever. On Blessed Island he meets a young woman, Merle, who he feels strangely drawn to although he doesn’t quite know why. At the close of the first tale, the reader ends up with more questions than answers, questions that are slowly answered by going back in time… seven times, until we get to the beginning of their destined love.
As per usual, Sedgwick’s prose is sparse and seemingly simple, which gives it its unsettling and haunting feel that most people call “gothic” (and after all, this is not just a book of love, but also one with quite a lot of violence, blood, death…). Somehow, Sedgwick always manages to give his books an almost poetic quality and Midwinterblood is no exception to this. I’m sure that Sedgwick will be accused of trying to outsmart himself with his attention to structure, genre, language and mood. But that’s not taking into consideration how engrossing this book (and many other of his books) really is: you just can’t stop reading and that’s the mark of a true artist right there.
Any Sedgwick book needs to be savored rather than devoured, though. His atmospheric prose is of the type that lingers. Blending the contemporary (e.g. the use of present tense alternated with the use of past tense for the narration of the 7 tales) with the traditional (these stories are what gothic horror tales would have been like at the heyday of “the gothic novel”!), he is so unlike many present-day “fantasy” writers, who churn out formulaic fantasy fodder. Sedgwick, on the other hand is – to use Aidan Chambers’ words – a true author and not a writer and he’s obviously not concerned with pleasing a certain type of audience, but rather in producing a work of art. Revolver, Blood Red, Snow White, Midwinterblood… all of these share this common urgency. And it works! It works for kids, it works for teens, it works for adults!