by Marcus Sedgwick
Book list *Starred Review* In the year 2073, a reporter named Eric is sent to Blessed Island to research a rare flower called the Dragon Orchid. There he finds an insular community of mysterious villagers, a delicious tea that has him losing days at a time, and a beguiling girl named Merle. In just 50 pages, we reach a shattering conclusion and then start anew in 2011. An archaeologist is digging on Blessed Island, where he meets a quiet boy named Eric and his mother, Merle. So begins this graceful, confounding, and stirring seven-part suite about two characters whose identities shift as they are reborn throughout the ages. Sedgwick tells the story in reverse, introducing us to a stranded WWII pilot, a painter trying to resurrect his career in 1901, two children being told a ghost story in 1848, and more, all the way back to a king and queen in a Time Unknown. It is a wildly chancy gambit with little in the way of a solid throughline, but Sedgwick handles each story with such stylistic control that interest is not just renewed each time but intensified. Part love story, part mystery, part horror, this is as much about the twisting hand of fate as it is about the mutability of folktales. Its strange spell will capture you.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Beginning in July 2073, Sedgwick's new novel makes its way backward through time, drawing readers into seven stories from different eras. Whether it is a 21st-century archaeologist, a World War II pilot, or a Viking king, there are subtle but tell-tale signs of the threads that bind them together over the centuries-the echoes of particular names and phrases, the persistence of a mysterious dragon orchid, and other seemingly innocuous moments that all hint at the dark mystery at the center of this lyrical yet horrifying tale. The plot is reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (Sceptre, 2004), with its themes of love and reincarnation, as well as of the cult-movie-turned-book Robin Hardy's Wicker Man (Crown, 1978), with its setting of remote and sinister island inhabitants. The many characters are vividly real and distinct from one another, despite making only brief appearances. Each of these vignettes seem rich enough to be worthy of a novel of its own, and readers might almost wish they could pause in each fascinating, detailed moment rather than be swept through time-and the novel-on the current of a cursed love. Although fans of the author's Revolver (Roaring Brook, 2010) will likely flock to this book to relish more of Sedgwick's stark, suspenseful writing, new readers might find that there are more questions left unanswered than are resolved.-Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly "I always prefer a walk that goes in a circle.... Don't you?" a woman named Bridget says to her daughter, Merle, at one point in this heady mystery that joins the remote northern setting of Sedgwick's Revolver with the multigenerational scope of his White Crow. Sedgwick appears to share Bridget's sentiment: as he moves backward through time in seven interconnected stories-from the late 21st century to an unspecified ancient era-character names, spoken phrases, and references to hares, dragons, and sacrifice reverberate, mutate, and reappear. Set on a mysterious and isolated Nordic island, the stories all include characters with variations on the names of Eric and Merle. In a present-day story about an archeological dig, Eric is a oddly strong, brain-damaged teenager and Merle his mother; in the 10th century, when the island was inhabited by Vikings, Eirek and Melle are young twins, whose story answers questions raised by what the archeologists discover. Teenage characters are few and far between, but a story that's simultaneously romantic, tragic, horrifying, and transcendental is more than enough to hold readers' attention, no matter their age. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved