“And I would never stay where I was not free; I would simply walk out the door and vanish, vows or no.”
~”Winter Rose,” by Patricia McKillip
Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat recommended this book to me last year after I had reviewed McKillip’s earlier novel The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. I’ve had it on my shelf for a while now and had been saving it for Once Upon a Time.
“Winter Rose” is loosely based upon the story of Tam Lin, although it differs from the legend in enough ways that one doesn’t necessarily know how the story will play out. The main character Rois lives in a tiny village with her father and her sister Laurel. Laurel is engaged to her childhood sweetheart, but Rois doesn’t like the idea of settling down. She has always been a bit of a wild child and enjoys spending her afternoons in the forest, and is content to remain that way. One day a mysterious (and attractive) stranger named Corbet comes to town. Rois and Laurel both begin to fall for him, but the older villagers whisper of a curse upon Corbet’s family. Rois attempts to discover the nature of the curse, which threatens to destroy the people whom she loves the most.
McKillip uses beautiful prose to masterfully create a fairy-tale atmosphere. I enjoyed the way that she gave Rois’ encounters in fairyland a surreal nightmarish quality that causes her family to question whether she’s okay and Rois to wonder whether anything that she experiences is actually happening, or is instead the product of an overactive imagination.
“Winter Rose” was an excellent book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales and magic. McKillip’s writing is phenomenal, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her stories.