Book Review: Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip

Posted May 15, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Interviews, Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
Genres: Fairytale, Fantasy
Published by Ace Books on July 1, 1996
Pages: 262
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Kingfisher

A standalone fairy tale for adults revolving around a fey teen who knows what she wants.

In 1997, Winter Rose was nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

My Take

As ever, McKillip writes beautifully, if confusingly. Confusing because McKillip makes me think and try to figure out what she’s saying behind her words in this dreamy story that floats oh, so slowly.

Combining fairy tales with a snatch of reality, McKillip uses first-person protagonist point-of-view from Rois’ perspective, as she observes her sister’s enthrallment, their father’s ease, Perrin’s concerns, and Corbet’s struggles. Despite the lack of pounding tension, McKillip did keep me turning those pages to find out what happens, to find an explanation.

It’s one that revolves around that age-old contention between child and parent, of the child not wanting the parent’s dream. And the desperate measures each will take.

McKillip’s warmth comes through in the love in the Melior family, Perrin’s patience, the close-knit people within the village. And in those setting descriptions that make me covet the Melior cottage!

One of my niggles in this is how easily McKillip ignores man’s natural reactions. It’s an odd “competition” between Rois and Laurel as they vie for Corbet’s attention. You’d think there’d be tension between them, but no. Perrin is too easy. The villagers are too accepting. Their father is too complacent.

On the other hand, there was a scene in which McKillip made me see how myths and legends arose. How a human in the woods, at night, could interpret the sights and sounds as a wild hunt, of beings swirling through the woods.

“I want to do what I want to do.”

The Story

It was fifty-two winters ago that Nial Lynn was found murdered, and all the old rumors of his curse revive with the return of his grandson.

Determined to live the life he chooses, Corbet Lynn tackles his ancestral home, hiring men from the village to repair the walls, the roof, the door. That’s not all Corbet intends to repair.

He wants a normal life…

The Characters

Rois Melior is a wild child, preferring to run barefoot through the woods, the world. Laurel is her responsible sister, stitching up her trousseau to marry Perrin, a neighboring farmer. Their father, Mathu Melior, is bemused and tolerant of his wildly varying daughters. Beda is their cook.

Corbet Lynn is a local son who has returned to claim his inheritance, Lynn Hall. Tearle Lynn had been Corbet’s abused father. Nial Lynn had been his nasty grandfather.

Crispin is the blacksmith’s lazy son who has an eye for the ladies. Salish is his more responsible brother. Halov is their grandfather. Furl and Ley Gett and Tamis Orley are more of the younger villagers.

Shave Turl cares for his old auntie, Great-aunt Anis Turl, who had been a contemporary of Tearle Lynn’s with Marin. Aleria Turl of the gooseberry eyes has snagged the man of her dreams.

Leta Gett is old with older bones. Caryl is her grown daughter. Blane is the apothecary for whom Rois gathers materials. Mat Gris is one of his patients. Til Travers is the man who found the body; Nysa Turl liked to ride with him. Willom is Til’s son.

The winter faerie queen is quite possessive.

The Cover and Title

The cover is muted in grayed-out colors yet vivid in detail. It’s Rois with her deep golden hair crimped and styled with a deep gold tiara with a clear drop suspended from the center and wearing a short necklace of pearls, her shoulders encased in ermine that blends into the snowy landscape. A tree grows up from the bottom center, its two trunks separating to embrace Rois’ neck, becoming one with her hair. Hair from which vines sprout and twine, merging with the rose vines clambering in a narrow border around the cover. Keeping her company is a snowy owl, perched on one of the branches while a full-blown red rose rises up from the lower right. The author’s name and title are in white and span the top with a pale green informational blurb above it.

The title is the protagonist, the Winter Rose, who struggles through a winter of her own discontent.

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