Study Guide

Midwinterblood Writing Style

By Marcus Sedgwick

Writing Style

Simple, Haunting, and Suspenseful

The writing in Midwinterblood is so simple and straightforward, that at times it's even stark. Take this passage for example:

Everyone gathered then at the side of the longhouse, upon which were written words. They were shaky, tall, and crazed, and they were written in the blood of the slaughtered cow.

"What does it say?" someone asked, someone without letters.

But no one dared speak it aloud. It was too awful, and yet, Eirik and I knew the words, for we had letters.

I want my children.

That was all.
(6.8.37-43)

This is a perfect description of what is happening: Someone has written a message in blood on the side of the longhouse, and while not everyone can read it, Melle and Eirik can. This is both an extremely basic and easy-to-understand account, as well as absolutely terrifying. By holding back on any information about how the characters feel, the author builds up the sense of dread; the sheer terror comes from the moment alone. The whole thing is so understated, and this is what makes it so powerful. The entire book is filled with scenes like this.

The author also knows how to leave us in suspense. We're constantly wanting to find out more about the mysteries of Blessed Island and all the other totally weird stuff going down. Consider this passage, for example:

As [David] drifts back to the blue dreaming heavens once more, his eyes fix on his clothes, on the remains of his equipment pack, and he notices something.

His pistol is missing. (3.4.27-28)

By cutting off the narrative before things are too explained and fleshed out, we are left wanting more. The entire book really builds on this tension and uncertainty. We're constantly pushing further and further into the secrets of our main characters, unraveling the mystery piece by piece. And this lasts right down to the very last page.

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