Study Guide

Midwinterblood

By Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood Introduction

There's nothing Shmoop loves more than seeing our favorite books made into movies. Well, except for reading those books before the movie comes out so we can feel superior to everyone else sitting in the theater. We are so highbrow and literary.

Midwinterblood hasn't been made into a movie… yet. But seriously, someone needs to get on this. We even have some ideas for pitching it to those fancy movie studio execs. It's like Lost meets The Time Traveler's Wife. Or Cloud Atlas meets (500) Days of Summer. Or even Hot Tub Time Machine meets Twilight. Okay, maybe not that last one. (Though, admit it, you totally would go see that flick, right?)

The reason folks would love watching this 2013 novel by Marcus Sedgwick play out on the big screen is that it's got something for everyone. The book tells the story of Eric and Merle who are destined to meet, love, and lose each other in each of seven lifetimes. It's got romance, mystery, horror, and fantasy. For real—we're can already see lines forming around the block on opening weekend.

All of this is cool, but the biggest draw to the story is how it's told. The whole thing is set up in reverse chronological order. That just means that the first thing you read about is actually the last thing that happens. Cool, right? In this story, we start out with Eric and Merle who meet on a remote Scandinavian island in 2073 and end up with Eirikr and Melle who both die on a remote Scandinavian island sometime before the 10th century. Is it trippy? Yup. But it's also effective, and along the way, the whole thing reads like a weird and mysterious puzzle.

We're not the only ones who dug Midwinterblood. The folks over at the American Library Association liked it so much that they put an award on it. The book won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2014. This means, that out of all the books that were written for high school(ish) aged readers that year, Midwinterblood was the absolute best one. That's a pretty big deal.

Don't you want to see it win an Oscar now, too? Seriously, Hollywood guys—Shmoop is available to write the screenplay if need be. Have your people call our people.

What is Midwinterblood About and Why Should I Care?

Ever get the feeling that you've done something before?

There's a fancy French name for this feeling—déjà vu—and lots of people have experienced this sensation. But what if this feeling is something more, a hint that we've lived other lives, had other experiences, even been other people? It's kind of mind-blowing stuff, and a big part of what Midwinterblood explores.

On the surface, this book is pretty much about reincarnation. After all, the main characters keep being reborn into new bodies and living new lives as new people after they die—that sure sounds like reincarnation to us. And lots of different cultures believe that this is a totally real thing that happens to people. So no judgment from us if you do or don't.

But more generally speaking, this book is about identity. Who are you? Are you just one person who lives and dies and that's it? Or do we get more go-arounds on this crazy ride called life? It can be sort of liberating to think that we have more chances to make things right. If we are other people, though, that opens up a whole world of possibilities. 

So, the next time you get that déjà vu feeling, just think what it could mean. Sure, maybe it's just one of those weird quirks of living, but maybe—just maybe—you've actually walked into this laundromat before. In another life. Carrying someone else's dirty clothes. Yeah. Spooky.

Midwinterblood Resources

WEBSITES

All Sedgwick, All the Time
This is Sedgwick's site, and your one-stop shop for pretty much everything you might ever want to know about him.

American Library Association's Printz Award Website
The website that explains the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Yeah. It's kind of a big deal.

Brännö, Sweden
Visit the place that inspired Blessed Island. Now with one hundred percent less flower cults and human sacrifice.

ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

Review of Midwinterblood
Eoin Colfer (who's most famous for writing the Artemis Fowl books) reviews Midwinterblood for The New York Times. And he likes it. He really likes it.

A YA Interviews Our YA Author
Go figure, right? And guess what? Sedgwick looks up to his daughter. Aw.

VIDEO

Book Trailer
The haunting trailer for Midwinterblood, complete with your favorite quotes.

An Author Visit with Marcus Sedgwick
The author talks about writing Midwinterblood and what it feels like to be a writer.

How to be an Author
Sedgwick talks about why he wanted to be a writer. Check out his accent.

The Paintings of Carl Larsson
He did a whole lot more besides Midvinterblot—though, to be fair, none of the other ones ever inspired an award-winning novel.

BBC Documentary on Vikings
Find out more about the life that Melle and Eirik led… minus the menacing vampires.

Viking Archeology
Students from Stockholm University explain the school's program on Viking archeology and language. We think Edward would be proud to have any of these kids on his field team.

AUDIO

Author Reading
This audio has video, so get ready to watch and listen as Sedgwick reads from "The Vampire" section in Midwinterblood. So spooky.

An Interview with Sedgwick
The author talks about writing and working on Midwinterblood and his other novels.

"Midvinterblot" by Unleashed
This Swedish death metal band put out an album titled after a good old December sacrifice. It's so metal, man. King Eirikr would have dug it.

IMAGES

Marcus Sedgwick
This guy looks like he's up to something.

Midvinterblot by Carl Larsson
The painting that started it all.

A Midwinterblood Cover
Two hares loving each other across time.

Yet Another Midwinterblood Cover
It's Henrik/Gunnar… So ominous. Eek.

Plotting Notes
From Sedgwick's notebook—because for this book, you definitely need a plan.

Plotting Maps
Another diagram from Sedgwick showing how all the different plots in Midwinterblood overlap.