“Winter Rose” by Patricia McKillip

“Winter Rose” by Patricia McKillipWinter Rose by Patricia McKillip
Published: 1997 by Ace
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 262
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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“And I would never stay where I was not free; I would simply walk out the door and vanish, vows or no.”

~”Winter Rose,” by Patricia McKillip

Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat recommended this book to me last year after I had reviewed McKillip’s earlier novel The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.  I’ve had it on my shelf for a while now and had been saving it for Once Upon a Time.

“Winter Rose” is loosely based upon the story of Tam Lin, although it differs from the legend in enough ways that one doesn’t necessarily know how the story will play out.  The main character Rois lives in a tiny village with her father and her sister Laurel.  Laurel is engaged to her childhood sweetheart, but Rois doesn’t like the idea of settling down.  She has always been a bit of a wild child and enjoys spending her afternoons in the forest, and is content to remain that way.  One day a mysterious (and attractive) stranger named Corbet comes to town.  Rois and Laurel both begin to fall for him, but the older villagers whisper of a curse upon Corbet’s family.  Rois attempts to discover the nature of the curse, which threatens to destroy the people whom she loves the most.

McKillip uses beautiful prose to masterfully create a fairy-tale atmosphere.  I enjoyed the way that she gave Rois’ encounters in fairyland a surreal nightmarish quality that causes her family to question whether she’s okay and Rois to wonder whether anything that she experiences is actually happening, or is instead the product of an overactive imagination.

“Winter Rose” was an excellent book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales and magic.  McKillip’s writing is phenomenal, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her stories.


I read this book as a part of the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books and the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

22 thoughts on ““Winter Rose” by Patricia McKillip

  1. Her writing is phenomenal. I often describe it as having a lyrical quality which seems like a hackneyed phrase but I don’t know any other way to say it. Poetic? For me her work has its own unique lyricism. She uses language in such a masterful way. Maybe the best way to describe it is that Kinuko Y. Craft’s intricate and beautifully detailed covers are the best visual representation of the beauty that McKillip captures in her words. I can’t think of any illustrator and author whose work so profoundly and perfectly belongs together.

    1. A lyrical quality describes her writing perfectly. It reminds me a lot of reading fairy tales as a child, except that McKillip’s work is aimed at an older audience while calling on a lot of the nostalgia of childhood.

  2. I’m very glad you liked it. The writing is so special, I would call it lyrical as well. I got a lot of recommendations on my post last year and want to go on reading her. I’ve got the sequel to this one on this years list.

    1. Ooooh, I didn’t know that there was a sequel to this. What’s it called? I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for it! Have you read the Riddle Master trilogy yet? I have the first book to that on my Once Upon a Time TBR pile for this year too. 😀

      1. Solstice Wood seems to be the sequel of Winter Rose. I hope I’ll get to it soon.
        I have the Alphabet of Thorn here as well. I think Gavin and Jenclair both said they thought it was her best.
        No, I haven’t read the Riddle Master trilogy yet.

  3. Oh no! Now I have another book that I want! I think Once Upon a Time is going to completely turn by tbr into a monster!
    Thanks though.
    Sounds really good.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Haha, Once Upon a Time does that. Most of the books I’m reading this year for it are ones that I picked up after hearing about them last year. 😀

  4. I had the first book in mind for this year’s un-challenge, but now that I know there’s a sequel I’ve added it as well. As someone else has said, it’s just crazy how long the list for this event is every year. Crazy-good!

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