Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick, 275 pages.

British author Marcus Sedgwick is a skilled and mesmerizing storyteller. His tales are riveting; his prose is vivid, and the atmosphere is often dark and brooding – and never more so than in his newly published book, Midwinterblood.
The small, remote Scandinavian island of Blessed Isle seems strangely familiar to a young journalist, Eric, as he arrives to investigate rumours which hint at the immortality of its inhabitants. In fact, he feels that he knows and has even loved Merle, the young woman he happens to meet at the dock.
Is it possible that Eric once lived on Blessed Isle in another life and time?
With Sedgwick’s intense, descriptive writing, this possibility becomes quite believable.
Seven interwoven stories take Eric, Merle and the reader back in time from the future (year 2073) to seven different intervals in history, to the time of the Vikings and even to “time unknown”. The lovers meet again and again on the island in very different circumstances. As they move back in time, they also move forward through the seasons, designated by the names of the full moons (the Flower Moon of Midsummer, the Blood Moon of Midwinter, etc.).
An epilogue returns the couple to year 2073 and ends this brilliantly-constructed, complex novel which is very successful at creating a sense of sustained mystery, dread and foreboding.  
A powerful, enchanting novel about love, sacrifice and fate, Midwinterblood would likely appeal most to older teens and adults. Marcus Sedgwick is also the author of My Swordhand is Singing, White Crow and The Kiss of Death.

** Recommended for ages 15 years and up.

Magisterium, by Jeff Hirsch, 310 pages.
In sixteen-year-old Glenn’s twenty-second-century world, The Rift is the divide between two very separate societies. Glenn (Glennora) Morgan and her father live in the technologically advanced realm, which is entirely different from the other side.
When Glenn was six, her mother disappeared. Since then, her father, a scientist, has been engrossed in building a device that will harness the power to allow him entry into the Rift, where he believes his wife may be imprisoned.
No sooner does he finish his project than the “Colloquium Authority” (which has been lying to him all along) tries to obtain the device. It becomes apparent that Authority wants it so badly that it will stop at almost nothing.  
When her father is suddenly arrested, Glenn and her friend, Kevin, and her cat manage to escape into the Magisterium.  
Here, the magical Affinity rules and in fact, magic seems to run wild. There is little place for technology – or, as it seems at first, for Kevin and Glenn.
Jeff Hirsch has written a fantasy-science fiction novel for teens which features a strong, brave, intelligent protagonist. Combined with a fast-paced and action-filled plot, mystery, and wonderfully descriptive writing, this novel will intrigue readers.
Readers who enjoy Magisterium will be interested to know that Jeff Hirsch also wrote The Eleventh Plague, another story set in a dystopian society - in which a horrible influenza strain has killed about two-thirds of the American population.

** Recommended for ages 12 years and up.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on March 7, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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