Winter Rose

by Patricia McKillip
Ace Books; ISBN 0-441-00438-5; 262 pp.;
reviewed by Paula Johanson

The author of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld has a new magical story to tell, once again as deep as any of the old fairy tales. Patricia McKillip wrote Winter Rose with the intensity of Tam Lin or Rose Red. But this is no mere re-telling of old stories.“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 briar 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 briars and looked down at my own reflection.”The characters and the sense of place are sharply realized. “Don’t fret. Everyone runs from such things now and then; it’s only human. People gather, and drink, and dance, feelings begin to fly like trapped birds, things get spoken without words, music suggests things that simply can’t be... Lovers suddenly wear too-familiar faces, and other faces promise other worlds...”McKillip is clearly a master storyteller working at her full strength.

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