Redwinter Chronicles #1
Tor; June 28, 2022 (US)
Gollancz; June 30, 2022 (UK)
345 pages (ebook)
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10 / 10 ✪
I was kindly granted an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Orion & NetGalley for the eARC! All opinions are my own.
Those who see the dead soon join them.
Seventeen year-old Raine knows what she wants out of life, and has it. A man that loves her, a life where she’s respected, a group she’s protected in so much that she almost feels loved. The only problem is that her new family is on the run and holed up in a decaying monastery—which has started widening the cracks in her perfect life.
Maybe her love isn’t so perfect. Braithe is great, but at twice her age he should know better. He yells and belittles and raises his hand to her far too often, to the point that Raine is starting to feel like nothing but a bedwarmer. Her perfect family is less than perfect as well. The sisters preach about the colors within, and their followers eat it up. But Raine isn’t a believer. In fact, she’s never felt like one of them less.
But her die is cast and her lot chosen. She’s with them to the death—especially since death is coming for them all.
In the form of a lost apprentice, hunted by her Draoihn brethren. One that Raine helps, and who repays her by trying to summon an ancient evil unto the world.
An evil Raine helps defeat, but only just. After which she is whisked off to Redwinter by the Draoihn pair, as a witness to the foiled end of the world plot. But after being spared certain death, Raine is now confronted by a probable and much worse end. For if they knew her secret—her ability to see and commune with the dead—these warrior mages would kill her in a much more spectacular and painful manner.
As she lingers in Redwinter, Raine finds more than she ever could’ve hoped, but far less than she might have dreamt of: a life, albeit not one she expected; friends, though they might turn on her if they ever found out her secret; power, though it’s temperamental and impossible to control; and a plot, one she’s got to get under control before it burns her new home down around her.
‘ I began to have a life. It was not a life I had wanted, but it was the one I was living, and one cannot always swim against the tide. ‘
Earlier this month I read a review from Rebecca over at Powder & Page, which proclaimed this as a potential book of the year candidate. Now, I thoroughly adored McDonald’s last series and was ecstatic to hear her praise. And even more excited, as the book did not disappoint.
‘ Friendship is easy to claim and dangerous to test. ‘
I thought I had this pegged as soon as we prevented the ancient evil from releasing itself on the world. I was wrong.
This was not a “teen discovers powers”, “teen goes to magic school”, “enter hijinx and tomfoolery and maybe the end of the world”, like I expected. Sure, it has many of those characteristics—so many that it really looks like it’s going to follow the same pattern. And then the plot takes a left turn. Even further on, when I thought we’d fallen back into the original pattern—it takes another abrupt turn. I’m not going to spoil either of these, but they’re as surprising as they are entertaining, and—better yet—they work really well. The twists may not be world-changing, but they do just enough to change the story while keeping the pace and flow intact.
Raine is an excellent character. She’s young and foolish. She’s clever and witty. She’s pessimistic but hopeful. She has darkness within her, but light as well. She’s… human. Well designed, well portrayed, well written. She’s by far the strongest character, though the others are well written as well. Often profoundly so. Ovitus was among one of my favorite characters just for his sheer complexity. He’s not a particularly… charming character, though he does have something about him that makes him appealing. He’s just so interesting—especially in how he interacts with the world, the other characters, Raine herself—that he’s a fascinating character to read. Raine was by far my favorite, though a few of the others grew on me over the story’s course.
What else do I really have to say about this? Well, not too much as it turns out. I could rave about how well everything is done or about how much I loved every bit of it, but sadly I don’t think this would be enough. The only thing I can really do is tell you to read it, and recommend it whole-heartedly.
Not much to say here, except that Daughter of Redwinter continues Ed McDonald’s strong course of written works. I won’t even bore you by recapping the details. Everything was strong, in my opinion. A great world, great characters, story, blah blah blah. This is (very, very likely) my book of 2022 thus far. Go read it.