Read for the Patricia A. McKillip Reading Challenge.
“They said later that he rode into the village on a horse the color of buttermilk, but I saw him walk out of the wood.
I was kneeling at the well; I had just lifted water to my lips. The well was one of the wood’s secrets: a deep spring as clear as light, hidden under an overhang of dark stones down which the brier roses fall, white as snow, red as blood, all summer long. The vines hide the water unless you know to look. I found it one hot afternoon when I stopped to smell the roses. Beneath their sweet scent lay something shadowy, mysterious: the smell of earth, water, wet stone. I moved the cascading briers and looked down in to my own reflection.”
Thus begins Winter Rose, the lovely fairy tale story of sisters Rois and Laurel. Laurel is the practical one who manages their father’s house and is engaged to be married to her childhood sweetheart. Rois is the wild one, who takes after their long dead mother, and roams the forests around their home.
It’s Rois that first sees Corbet Lynn, last heir to a cursed line. Corbet has returned to his ancestral home to rebuild the family hall, and his return brings back the long dead gossip of his family’s past, when Corbet’s father killed his own father and then disappeared, followed by the curse that was his dying father’s last words.
Rois is fascinated by the curse, and in digging for more information, finds much more than she bargained for, and Corbet and Laurel’s lives will shortly hang in the balance. It’s up to Rois to save them, and discover secrets of her own past in the process.
This is a lovely book, and may just be my favorite McKillip book of all. The language is so beautiful, and the story, while it has echoes of Tam Lin, and of many other fairy tales, is unique, and stands alone. I enjoyed every word of it, and was sorry when it ended.