London, Indigo, 2012, 263p
This is an incredibly dark, brilliantly Gothic novel. I have not read something so scary in some time, and I loved the feeling it gave me. Sedgwick defines the Gothic genre in it's modern form, and Midwinterblood is a fabulous example of his skill.
Written in reverse chronological order, this is a story of life, death, and love. It is set on Blessed Island, so far north the sun rarely sets. Mystery envelopes the island, as folk lore suggests that the people here never grow old, fueled by a unique healing plant, the Blessed Dragon Orchid. In 2073, journalist Eric Seven arrives there to learn more, but gets the feeling he has been there before.
It's really hard to write about this book without giving too much away, but let me just say that this novel contains several interlinked stories with recurring characters. It looks at the journey of two souls across many centuries, constantly searching for each other, wanting to be together.
That's the romantic aspect, but the part I loved the most was the Gothic themes. So far from the real world, Blessed Island is eery and mysterious - all is not as it seems. Characters keep popping up, they feel like they recognise each other, even though they cannot possibly have lived that long. Sedgwick plays with the idea of life eternal, both in the literal sense, with those characters who consume the Dragon Orchid, and in terms of eternal souls, with the souls of Eric and Merle finding each other throughout the centuries, despite the odds against them.
This novel took me back to the Gothic literature I studied at university - Poe, Hawthorne, Henry James. The suspense and drama are perfectly choreographed, taking the reader back in time, developing completely realistic worlds in each setting. Sometimes, I had to flick back through the pages to remember who was who, but I loved the slow revelation of the truth through the darkness of the story. At the end, everything came together, and all I want to do is read it again - I know it will reveal more to me with each re-reading.