Having greatly enjoyed my first McKillip book, In the Forests of Serre, I moved immediately to Winter Rose with great anticipation. Rois and Laurel are two sisters, opposites in every way. Laurel is calm, serene and happily making beautiful lacey things for her upcoming wedding to Perrin. Rois prefers losing herself in the woods, wandering barefoot collecting flowers and herbs. One day handsome Corbet Lynn shows up at crumbling Lynn Hall intent on rebuilding his family home, stirring up gossip and talk in the village of the murder that took place years before and the curse on the Lynn family.
At this point I was enjoying the “gentle elegance” of McKillip’s style (as described by Library Journal), but scratching my head thinking that this story was shaping up as a typical historical romance. Around about Chapter 7 I began to realize that things weren’t quite what they seemed. That charming spring in the woods reflected more than just the bramble roses hiding it, and Rois was hearing more than just the wind in the trees. Not to mention that odd look in Corbet’s eye.
McKillip weaves a tale as intricate as that tangle of bramble roses, drawing us into her fantasy world (or should I say worlds?) and holding us there with beautiful, evocative language. I’ve already started my third McKillip book of the summer,The Bell at Sealey Head, and it’s only May.