What if young love lasted forever?
Harry March is a 17 year old high school athlete madly in love with his sweetheart, Melanie Cosgrove. Melanie is a frail girl, always suffering and constantly on the verge of dying from a heart disease. One day they both collapse at the football field, but when Melanie wakes up, she feels stronger than ever, and she rushes to Harry’s side. Their connection to one another is stronger than either of them ever thought. What neither of them know quite yet is that Melanie’s heart has stopped and the two of them are now pulled into a centuries-old battle wherein they are the living embodiments of Winter and Summer. This is slowly explained to them by Jack Frost – currently represented by a 13 year old.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, it only gets more confusing before becoming clearer. And that’s one of the real charms about a Seanan McGuire novel. Those of us who have journeyed with McGuire before know to have faith in that journey. If you’re new to her work, just keep going – you’ll survive (but it may hurt a bit).
The book really took me by surprise, in a really good way.
First, this feels like a stand-alone fantasy/mythology story. I only now see that it’s considered to be the second book in the “Alchemical Journeys” series but I honestly don’t think there’s anything that would require your having read Middlemarch before enjoying this. A stand-alone book is a real treat in this age of publishers trying to make a series out of everything (in order to ‘guarantee’ sales no doubt).
Second, we have some truly incredible world-building. That’s not surprising, given that this is from Seanan McGuire.
I very recently read and reviewed two books, Star Mother and Star Father by Charlie N. Holmberg wherein I waxed on about how truly amazed I was at the mythology created by Holmberg for those two books. I am equally amazed and impressed here with McGuire’s taking that existing nugget of mythology – Jack Frost – and weaving it like an intricate tapestry into this story.
McGuire is so good at world-building, but she’s equally good with creating characters who are unique, strong, and identifiable. Not just the main characters, but everyone who makes an appearance in the story (but she also know how to minimize the number of characters necessary so that we don’t have a revolving door of minor characters). We feel like we know these teens, Harry and Melanie, and we like them, so when they become something more, we’re already attached to them and aching to follow their story.
McGuire is also just a darn good wordsmith as well. (“The woman in the doorway has a laugh like smoky bourbon, smooth and peaty and rich and a bit intoxicating.”) At one point, after finishing a certain chapter, I realized that we had just been given a massive info dump. Normally my skin would crawl reading a book wherein we get such a massive download of background information, but McGuire somehow manages to pull it off. I might not have even realized it if I hadn’t stopped to reflect on what I’d just read. I have to laugh now as I realize that not only is McGuire so adept at handling this, she even has the temerity to tell us she’s going to do it. The title of that chapter…? “Explanation”
I really liked this book, and as much as I enjoy McGuire’s October Daye, Wayward Children, and InCryptid series’ I don’t need ten more books with all the trials and conflicts of Melanie and Harry or Jack Frost or the Winter King and Summer Queen. Let me relish this and then move on to another gem.
Looking for a good book? Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire is an outstanding fantasy/dark fantasy of young love and centuries’ old conflict with familiar mythological figures.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Seanan McGuire
series: Alchemical Journeys #2
hardcover, 482 pages