Thursday, 25 August 2011

REVIEW - 'Winter', John Marsden (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2000, this edition published 2011)

Sixteen year old Winter is returning to her family homestead after being shipped of to relatives following the tragic deaths of her parents when she was four years old. Spurred on by her unease and the desire to uncover a family secret, the prickly Winter seeks to lay claim to what is rightfully hers.

Being one of those English people, I am a relative newcomer to the works of Marsden. This is only the second book of his that I've read, the first being the rather brilliant, rather shocking 'Letters From the Inside'. With both, Marsden delivers an emotional heavyweight in a very slim volume.

Our narrator, Winter, is beautifully drawn. Her narkiness and stubbornness are given a sympathetic edge - I immediately got where she was coming from, why she was acting like she was and I forgave her for it.

The real winner here is the plot. A genuinely intriguing and intelligent mystery surrounding the deaths of her parents that kept my hands glued to the pages from start to finish. A few not-too-obvious red herrings are chucked in to keep us guessing, but the ending does not underestimate the intelligence of the reader. A satisfying romantic element is also there - a must for this reader! Can't really say much else about the book here without ruining it so I'll keep schtum.

Highly recommended. Short, but not-so-sweet. And all the better for it.

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