HW Assignment: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Note: This post was intended to be read by others who had already read the book thus, there may be spoilers.

After finishing this book, I had the urge to reread it 19-Midwinterbloodimmediately, but this time going backwards. The layout of the book and how the plot unfolded was unexpected and interesting. The reader is given brief snapshots into different periods of time with each new section. As the book progresses, the reader is given answers and asks more questions (which are subsequently answered in later sections). Overall, the book had a darker feel to it and something about the writing kept me feeling vaguely unsettled, though I can’t put my finger on why.

This book had a lot of subtle connections that ran throughout the different sections. First, they all took place on the same island. Second, the phases of the moon all played roles in their particular sections (ex. Part 2 with The Hay Moon – Eric was injured while playing in the uncut hay, Part 4 with The Fruit Moon – Merle brought Eric apples from his orchard). Third, there were repeated phrases and elements that wove through each of the stories that tied them all together. In almost every iteration of the story, the Eric character says, “Well, so it is” (3, 75, 102, 165, 177, 247). Hares also play a role in each story in various forms (alive, stuffed animal, bones). In addition, the use of the phrase “Speak of the Devil” (76, 159) or a variation of it is used (“Speak of the Devil and his horns appear” (112), “Say his name and his horns appear” (177), “Name him, and he’s always near” (221), “Well…his horns appear” (251)). It’s obvious that the author wants the reader to make connections based on the threads that he’s woven through all of the sections. Each of the repeated elements seems to originate from important components of the last section (or the lives of the original Eric and Merle).

Overall, I felt that the book was interesting though unsettling. I feel that I have been able to make some connections, but mostly I feel that a lot of the author’s intentions with the symbolism have gone over my head. In the end, I am left with a lot of questions. Why was Tor in some of the parts but not all of them? Why did the author choose to repeat the elements that he did? Why were Eric and Merle sometimes lovers, sometimes strangers, and sometimes otherwise related? Why did Eric and Merle only seem to recognize each other as destined souls in their last reincarnation? Karyn Silverman’s review of the book on School Library Journal asks some of the same questions and offers insights and possible interpretations, though a few of my initial questions remain.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray and Dissonance by Ericka O’Rourke are two other young adult novels that include variations of the same characters, though instead of a type of reincarnation these books use alternate realities.

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