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Author: Sedgwick, Marcus
Seven linked vignettes unfold on a Scandinavian island inhabited--throughout various time periods--by Vikings, vampires, ghosts, and a curiously powerful plant.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.00
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 156568
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 59988
Michael L. Printz Award, 2014
Common Core Standards
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/12)
School Library Journal (03/01/13)
Booklist (+) (12/01/12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (02/13)
The Hornbook (+) (00/03/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2012 *Starred Review* In the year 2073, a reporter named Eric is sent to Blessed Island to research a rare flower called the Dragon Orchid. There he finds an insular community of mysterious villagers, a delicious tea that has him losing days at a time, and a beguiling girl named Merle. In just 50 pages, we reach a shattering conclusion—and then start anew in 2011. An archaeologist is digging on Blessed Island, where he meets a quiet boy named Eric and his mother, Merle. So begins this graceful, confounding, and stirring seven-part suite about two characters whose identities shift as they are reborn throughout the ages. Sedgwick tells the story in reverse, introducing us to a stranded WWII pilot, a painter trying to resurrect his career in 1901, two children being told a ghost story in 1848, and more, all the way back to a king and queen in a Time Unknown. It is a wildly chancy gambit with little in the way of a solid throughline, but Sedgwick handles each story with such stylistic control that interest is not just renewed each time but intensified. Part love story, part mystery, part horror, this is as much about the twisting hand of fate as it is about the mutability of folktales. Its strange spell will capture you. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2013 This collection of seven short stories, inspired by the epic final painting by turn-of-the-century Swedish artist Carl Larsson, is set on a remote Scandinavian island where the inhabitants appear to remain ageless in part due to an odd native flower that resembles a dragon. The first vignette opens in June of 2073 and features Eric, a young journalist whose investigation into the mysteries of the island brings him closer to Merle, an island resident who is strangely familiar to Eric. The story ends with both Merle and Eric facing down a sacrificial knife and the crazed island leader who wields it, an authorial choice that ensures that readers will be sufficiently invested in the two main characters to follow the remaining six tales, which trace the connection between Merle and Eric back through the centuries, eventually ending with the original sacrifice that set their fate in motion. The concept of two souls connected over space and time has obvious romantic appeal, and each individual story here is stunningly developed, offering up a different iteration of love and linking Eric and Merle in surprising but poignant ways: in one lifetime, they are mother and son, in another siblings, and in still another, a young girl and an old man who never meet but who manage to change each other’s lives nonetheless. Sedgwick’s prose is unadorned yet melancholic, and the stories all share a sense of a bleak desperation touched with just the slightest bit of hope, an effect that is most apparent in the concluding tale that reveals the ultimate fate of the two lovers. If readers require more heartache after that, an author’s note chronicling the artwork that inspired the stories will guide them to an equally compelling tale of the real-life painter and his subject. KQG - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2013 Gr 9 Up—Beginning in July 2073, Sedgwick's new novel makes its way backward through time, drawing readers into seven stories from different eras. Whether it is a 21st-century archaeologist, a World War II pilot, or a Viking king, there are subtle but tell-tale signs of the threads that bind them together over the centuries-the echoes of particular names and phrases, the persistence of a mysterious dragon orchid, and other seemingly innocuous moments that all hint at the dark mystery at the center of this lyrical yet horrifying tale. The plot is reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (Sceptre, 2004), with its themes of love and reincarnation, as well as of the cult-movie-turned-book Robin Hardy's Wicker Man (Crown, 1978), with its setting of remote and sinister island inhabitants. The many characters are vividly real and distinct from one another, despite making only brief appearances. Each of these vignettes seem rich enough to be worthy of a novel of its own, and readers might almost wish they could pause in each fascinating, detailed moment rather than be swept through time-and the novel-on the current of a cursed love. Although fans of the author's Revolver (Roaring Brook, 2010) will likely flock to this book to relish more of Sedgwick's stark, suspenseful writing, new readers might find that there are more questions left unanswered than are resolved.—Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.