Marcus has been published by Orion’s childrens list for many years now, and though I’ve dabbled with his vampire series (My Swordhand is Singing and Kiss of Death), and dipped a toe into his brilliant Raven Mysteries, I have only ever had a passing acquaintance with his writing. My work limited my reading to Orion’s adult titles, and with time for reading for pleasure at a premium I had never really given his books a proper examination.
MIDWINTERBLOOD is the first of Marcus’ titles that I’ve been able to work on professionally and it was an absolute pleasure. As a book it’s very hard to describe without giving away too much of the story, so I’m going to give you a run-down of the reasons why Marcus should now be on the top of your list of authors to try…
1. Because the audiobook is absolutely fantastic.
Ok, a bit of Audio self-promotion there, but bear with me… The unabridged edition of MIDWINTERBLOOD is read by Julian Rhind-Tutt, who has recently appeared in The Hour, Merlin, Green Wing, Black Books and Stardust. His voice is bright and floating, easing you into the story like it’s the most innocent of bedtime stories, only to slowly and subtly let you know that everything most definitely isn’t right…
2. Because it’s smart
Everyone I know who has read MIDWINTERBLOOD has picked out the same throw-away concept that Marcus writes into the very first pages of the novel. When Eric Seven takes out his phone on the flight to Blessed Island, he opens his ‘One Degree’ app (which reads the social networks and contacts of everyone else on the plane to look for mutual friends) and Bumps those around him to find a connection, coming up surprisingly dry. How cool an idea is that, and why hasn’t someone put it together yet? Add in glimpses of Viking history, wartime politics and art and you have a portrait of the author as a very clever and well informed man.
3. Because it’s about love in all its forms.
At the heart of the story are two lovers tied to each other through generations, but rather than restricting the story to the usual process of star-crossed romantics, Midwinterblood works the theme into the relationships between parents and children, siblings and friends.
4. Because its beautiful and terrifying at the same time
MIDWINTERBLOOD is a creepy story of loss, love, murder, violence, ritual, pain, drugs and sorrow on an island lost in the sea that’s far enough North that it doesn’t see the dark, and it’s all held together by a something as simple and delicate as a flower…
And finally, because it is as creepy as hell!