Woods-wise and free-spirited, Rois Melior is the opposite of her sensible sister, Laurel. But both Rois, who narrates, and Laurel fall under the spell of the stranger who enters their world. Decades ago, according to village gossip, Tearle Lynn murdered his father and mysteriously disappeared. Now Tearle's son, Corbet, has come home to rebuild crumbling Lynn Hall. Despite her attraction to Corbet, Rois is warned by her otherworldly senses that he is not what he seems. As Laurel falls hard for Corbet, Rois searches for the truth about the Lynns, but the answers she finds lead only to more questions. When Corbet disappears, Laurel begins to sicken and fade. To save her sister as well as Corbet, Rois will have to come to terms with the secret of her own changeling identity. The pace here is deliberate and sure, with no false steps; the writing is richly textured and evocative. McKillip (The Book of Atrix Wolf, and winner in 1975 of a World Fantasy Award for her novel The Forgotten Beasts of Eld) weaves a dense web of desire and longing, human love and inhuman need.
For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into this book. I've liked other books by this author, so I have no clue why this one didn't draw me in like previous ones have. Oh well, time to give up and move onto something else. Hopefully whoever gets it next enjoys it more!
The language alone is enough to recommend this book. Difficult to describe, a very unique story. It is moody, etherial, mystical.
This is a retelling of the ballad "Tam Lin." Honestly, I can't say I was really drawn into the story - though I did really feel for the protagonist - but the writing is so poetic and beautiful, I couldn't help but enjoy reading it, and I now hope to read more of the author's work.
McKillip is one of my favorite authors: she has an unrivalled ability to take a seemingly simple story and invest it with a beauty of language and depth of meaning seen in few books. Her fairytales are for adults, as well as younger people (as such stories were originally meant to be); she stays true to the heart and soul of this most enduring and significant form of tale-telling.
This book is based on the legend of Tam Lin, with a bit of Andersens Snow Queen thrown into the mix
Set in a timeless rural village, two sisters: wild and irresponsible Rois and the stable, engaged Laurel, are both fascinated by a young man recently arrived in town. Corbet is heir to the tumbledown hall outside of the village, but he is surrounded by rumors of a curse: his father is said to have murdered his grandfather and mysteriously fled town. Now the curse is suspected to have settled on Corbet is he doomed to repeat the past? What really did happen, all those years ago?
Rois is determined to find out the truth about Corbet but in doing so she may find more than she bargained for. The woods that Rois has always loved seems filled with some cruel and bitter otherworldly presence, as secrets and obsession threaten to lead both sisters on a path to destruction.
The story is simply told, and not long, but it has an emotional truthfulness that is not easy to come by. It meshes this world with that of faerie (?) in a masterful - and believable - way.
I love Patricia McKillip's writing. That bald statement doesn't do the depth of my feeling justice, but there it lies. She turns the simplest statement into poetry, creating exquisite images that shimmer before the mind's eye long after the book has been closed; she imbues the whole world with magic, drawing forth colors unimaginable from the stark black text on a white page.
It is possible that Winter Rose is her best book. Where normally her prose creates just the slightest distance, separating the reader from the actions described, the prose in Winter Rose is immediate, urgent, driving. Where normally her characters are just a little bit of a cipher, subject to motivations just the tiniest bit outside human ken, here her characters are warmly, achingly human. And where normally I finish one of her novels awed and melancholy and delighted, I finished Winter Rose wanting to scream.
She does all this by a simple change in perspective.
Normally, McKillip writes in a tight third-person perspective, shifting between characters at the chapter breaks. It is this that creates just the little bit of distance, this that keeps her characters ciphers. It gives her scope, for she often writes novels where the characters start spread across the map and only come together during the climax; but it does lessen the emotional punch. In Winter Rose, however, she is concerned with only one character: Rois Melior, the wild child of wood and water and bramble. Given that narrowing of focus, McKillip wisely delivers an arrestingly beautiful first-person perspective, gifting Rois with all of McKillip's own skill at seeing showers of gold in a summer sunbeam and the Wild Hunt coursing across a windblown sky. From the very first page that "I" makes Rois as ethereally flawless as McKillip's prose.
And that was why I wanted to scream at the conclusion of her tale. From the very first page I took Rois to my heart and I did not want to let her go -- and the ending McKillip weaves for her, enigmatic and difficult as always, cut me to the bone. It is, by fairy tale standards, a happy ending; but she deserved so much more.
Oh, you wanted to know about the plot? Well, it's a mixture of The Snow Queen and Tam Lin, and either I've gotten better at deciphering McKillip's climaxes or this is a remarkably coherent one. It is also about the stain that child abuse spreads through a family, and that element is handled so deftly that it is far more heartbreaking than anything more preachy could be.
Achingly beautiful language. MCKillip's turn of phrase is simply artful.
Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip is an interesting read about a young man and two women, one of whom he loves and the other who may be able to free him from a curse. The young woman named Rois who looks nothing like a rose but loves the forest, its creatures, plant life and all its mystery. However, her peaceful life is disrupted by the appearance of Corbet Lynn, whose father is rumored to have killed his grandfather. Corbet's grandfather is sad to have cursed his son and those who would follow him. Rois falls in love with Corbet but will he return the love she has for him? Can Rois win Corbet's love from her sister, Laurel? What is the curse? And if Rois can win Corbet's love, can she find release him from the curse? Read this story to discover the answers for yourself.