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Title: Winter Rose
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Rois, younger sister of Laurel, is a wild young woman who loves the woods. She finds a hidden pool behind a curtain of wild roses and in the process of drinking from it one day, sees a stranger coalesce out of light and shadow.
She later finds out that a young man, Corbet Lynn, has returned to the village to repair and live in his ancestral home. His father supposedly murdered his grandfather in the middle of winter long ago and the grandfather cursed him and all his descendants. But no one knows what the curse actually is.
Rois feels an attraction to Corbet and in a dream is told to never let him go. Back in the real world, it becomes obvious that Corbet is in love with Rois’s older sister Laurel, who is engaged to Perrin, a local farmer. Rois figures out that Corbet is from the fairy world, ie, The Wood and in a dream-like trip there, comes across Corbet’s father, Tearle Lynn. He is under the spell of the fairy queen and when the fairy queen tries to take Corbet for her own, Tearle fights his ensorcellement and ultimately ends up dead in our world in the Lynn house and Corbet has disappeared.
With Corbet gone in deepest mid-winter, Laurel begins to fade away, much like their mother did years and years ago. Rois offers herself up to the Fairy Queen but her humanity ends up breaking the spell the Queen has over her, Corbet and Laurel. Laurel wakes from her infatuation with Corbet and Corbet realizes he was trying to be in love with her humanity to keep himself out of The Wood. Since he is free, he can choose Rois and she can choose him.
The book ends with spring just around the corner and Corbet beginning to truly rebuild Lynn Manor.
One of the reasons I like to re-read books is to re-evaluate how I feel about them. When I read this back in ’07, even though I praised it highly, my feelings were just how unpleasant everything was. So I went into this with some trepidation, wondering how it would be. I really shouldn’t have worried as it turned out. I enjoyed the daylights out of this read.
Ominous, that is probably the best word to describe the tone for this book. The setting of winter and the Cold and the Wild Hunt and the Fairy Queen and Nial Lynn (the cruel grandfather who set this all off) and even such mundane things as roses and thorns just give out vibes of ominosity (I love making up words that aren’t real, at least in my reviews). In the hands of someone else that all might have been extremely depressing, but in McKillip’s hands, the lyrical words swept me along and brought me back into the spring and the sunlight.
The thing that stopped me from bumping this up all the way to a full 5star rating was the whole thing with Corbet and Laurel. While it was explained and made part of the story, I wish there had been another way. I don’t like reading about infidelity, even if it’s only emotional and all because of magic.
Other than that, this was a perfect book. I think when I read it again, some time in the future, I’ll try to read it mid-summer and not in the middle of a bleak New England winter.
Kinuko Craft does the cover again and I have to admit, it is probably one of my least favorites by her. Most of that is because of my dislike of the Fairy Queen in this story and since she’s THE cover, it just makes me go “blah”. But when you look at the full piece of art by Craft, you can just see what a gorgeous work this is. It goes hand in hand with the book and fully complements it.