5 CDs. 5:49 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780553552133. digital download.
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Midwinterblood is comprised of seven vignettes, with settings ranging from the future to Viking times and a variety of characters, including vampires, ghosts, and humans. Common to all the stories is the Scandinavian island, Blessed; a mysterious dragon orchid; and Eric and Merle, who play different roles in each story. This unusual book for teens (many of the stories feature adult characters only) goes backwards in time, beginning with a story that takes place in 2073. While each narrative could stand alone, combining them into one volume with the barest threads of connections (similar to Olive Kitteridge or Let the Great World Spin) makes the book noteworthy. The audiobook is expertly narrated by British actor Julian Rhind-Tutt, whose hushed English voice is perfect for the recording. Sedgwick's sparse prose is beautifully read with a haunting, dreamlike quality that lets listeners experience the horror, mystery, romance, and tragedy that abounds in the book. Melancholy yet lovely music briefly separates the vignettes.—Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC
Seven related stories chronicle life on a remote Scandinavian island, from the future (2073) backwards to the distant past ("time unknown"), gradually revealing Blessed Island's profound dependence on a strange drug and the island's disturbing history of human sacrifice. Each tale centers on two bonded souls -- reincarnated variously as family members, lovers, and intergenerational friends -- who reunite only to be wrenched apart again. Subtly changing pronunciation to reflect each time period, narrator Rhind-Tutt emphasizes the text's use of shifting language through the reverse progression of centuries. More importantly, Rhind-Tutt ably captures the emotional extremes of this unsettling novel: the uncanny recognition and tender reunion of the protagonists; the desperate fear and violence of their community; and the dark machinations of the island itself. katie bircher

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