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Daughter of Redwinter
by Ed McDonald
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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Raine has survived a cult and saved the world from evil. Yet, that is just the beginning of her story. Now she must go to Redwinter and enter into the service of the Draohin, warriors of mystical power. As she struggles with her trauma, Raine must also keep a dark secret. She can see the dead and execution awaits all who see the dead.
This newest novel by Ed McDonald is unique. His previous series, “The Raven’s Mark”, was a dark and gritty, but most of all weird, fantasy trilogy. "Daughter of Redwinter" is something else. While the world is not rainbows and sunshine, it is never quite as grim. The magic is strange, but never truly bizarre. In fact, "Daughter of Redwinter" reads like a more traditional epic fantasy.
That’s not a complaint, though. Instead, it gives McDonald a chance to try something new. The characters are fascinating and are given a wonderful depth. The world is intriguing and filled with a sense of history and lore. This is a fun book, but that's not saying it's shallow. McDonald has written a story that doesn’t just gloss over the trauma of loss and abuse, but instead explores it and embraces it.
At the heart of the story is the journey of healing Raine undergoes. She struggles through the pain of the healing from the loss of home and normal, from being abused and ostracized, and of friendships. It’s a beautiful tale wrapped up in epic fantasy.
I loved this book. Ed McDonald has truly won me over as a fan and I’m excited to see where Raine’s story goes next.
This is the first book in a series, and it suffers from the typical issues found in a series starter. The author has to tell a fully-satisfying story while still leaving enough questions open to keep the next book moving, which is a very hard road to walk. While the underlying main story for this book was interesting (though the "twist" was telegraphed so far in advance, I'm not sure it was meant to be a twist), the open question set up just felt off. A huge life-altering event no one can explain happens...and then everyone just sort of forgets about it except the protagonist. I understand this thread will probably get picked up in the next novel, but its inclusion in this book just felt off. Either it needed to be a smaller event or it needed to have more repercussions than it did. Instead, it just feels like a clumsy set up for a sequel.
"Those who see the dead soon join them. 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 speak-to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she's made some spectacularly bad choices along the way. But it is a rare act of kindness-rescuing an injured woman in the snow-that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made. Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she's stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation. Though she might have to die to make it happen . . "--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.92Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 2000-
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What I liked: I really appreciated the subversion of both genre tropes and the narrative itself. When the story opens, Raine is under siege in a monastery with what looks to be the supporting cast. She rescues a woman carrying the apparent McGuffin, an indestructible magic page from an unknown book. Potential antagonists are revealed. And then the story goes in a completely different direction. That's not to say these plot points aren't important, but they aren't in the way the reader immediately suspects. Much of the book is plotted like a mystery, another genre I enjoy.
What I didn't: World-building is a bit weak-yeah, you have the warrior monks and magic system, but the rest seems like thinly veiled fantasy Scotland, down to the names. The ending seems a bit over the top and rushed, with new concepts introduced only in the last couple of chapters.
Some intriguing threads and mysteries are laid for the sequel, enough for me to check out the next book in the series.
A finished copy was provided through the Goodreads first reads program