From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.
Raine can see–and more importantly, speak–to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness–rescuing an injured woman in the snow–is even worse.
Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.
Pity she might have to die for that to happen…
|Netgalley||eARC||352||Gollancz||Fantasy||June 30th, 2022|
Do you know that gif where long-haired Nicholas Cage has his face upturned to the fresh air and sunshine, a look of contentment on his face? This book is that feeling…
Here, let me demonstrate:
Ed McDonald is an absolute wizard when it comes to creating characters. They are people on page that you just start to feel strongly for. It is as true for Raven’s Mark trilogy as much as it is true for Daughter of Redwinter. It’s one of those books that make you realize that, in fact, you had simply been enjoying your previous reads on an average level, and this very title just made you go – oh, but this is how a reading experience CAN feel… This sweet, sweet reading pleasure.
There is quite a lot to unpack about this book, but never too much at once. Most importantly, although the book is so much more, there is an important piece of the bigger picture that shapes our female character Raine… I don’t want to give away spoilers but I can, vaguely, say that it’s to do with how she’s being treated and we get to explore the ins and outs of her response; and it was the most real depiction I have come across in a while. Ed has managed to respectfully and beautifully and carefully deliver a situation and solve it. I know it makes no sense if you haven’t read the book, but if you will, or if you have, you’ll know what I’m on about…
As a character, Raine goes from small to gigantic in the grand scheme of things and this is only to state the fact as explained in the blurb already. But her development is far from simple. Ed McDonald has crafted an intriguing story which starts with big problems in a small village which then snowball into epic proportions. And as Raine is trying to find her place in the world, she will be no stranger to cruelty, death and difficult choices. I thoroughly enjoyed how McDonald was able to put the essence of Raine on paper, how her thought processes were unraveled to change her yet again from one person to the next. There were moments of joy, stillness and gentleness; but also sweeps of depression. Dark, oppressive melancholy. It was put on paper masterfully and that is the secret sauce, the ability to write the character emotions so well, you simply connect. Click.
Nothing can track a person with greater tenacity than the horrors that broke them.
So, it is true that the character development of our MC Raine is no walk in the park. She is young, has already had a far from perfect childhood and life will throw challenge after challenge her way. Thing is, when most people would grumble under pressure, Raine is made of tougher stuff. You see the way she matures right in front of your eyes and that’s magical.
Daughter of Redwinter is not only about Raine though. Yes, she’s an important piece in a large game but it’s that game, the way of life, the culture, the Draoihn that also captivate. Who they are, what they do, WHY they do what they do. There is a rich story in between the covers of this book and yet McDonald doesn’t overdo it with frills; doesn’t delay the reader from getting on with the story; doesn’t digress. I like this flow that the author seems to write in, it’s confident and it makes all the difference.
As Raine becomes mingled with the bigger picture, more characters are introduced and thus also various relationship dynamics. There’s nothing overly sappy… What I mean is, you won’t have to read through some entirely cringey puppy love scenes. The whole aspect of potential feelings and love has rather been wrapped in a theme of ‘finding oneself’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. It adds an air of lighter tension to an already pregnant-with-danger atmosphere.
So, you see, Ed McDonald has yet again delivered. I would absolutely recommend this fantasy title to all fantasy readers. It has it all, it’s not overly graphic, or overly descriptive. It’s a pleasurable read and I hope the story continues…