|Macmillan Australia, 135 pages|
|A review by Georges T. Dodds
Winter, a 16-year-old orphan with attitude to spare, is troubled with a mystery of her own childhood. In this short novel of homecoming and self-discovery, Winter will rediscover things about herself she might have wished had remained buried forever. Returning to her biological parents' homestead in the outback, she is unhappy to find that little has been done to keep the place up in the 12 years of her absence. She gradually discovers more about her father's accidental death, and something of her mother's death several months later, but people are being very closed-mouth about the whole thing. Did her mother kill herself in despair over the loss of her husband? Why would a woman expert in the use of firearms have left a loaded gun with the safety off? Was it really an accident? What is it that people are not telling her? Only a great-aunt and her maid know the whole truth.
As with his other works, the portrayal of characters is excellent, and in particular, Winter, the narrator, is a young woman who, while troubled, is strong-minded and self-reliant, a character type common to several of Marsden's works. Winter reminds me, in some ways, of the title character in the North American television series Caitlin's Way. As in the Tomorrow series, the landscapes of the outback are beautifully depicted, and the struggle between man (or in this case young woman) and weeds particularly well portrayed.
In order to get this book, you're going to have to order it from Australia. Is it worth the trouble? Certainly, because Mr. Marsden has a peculiarly good insight into the mind of the young adult and doesn't condescend to his young target readers by feeding them sentimental tripe or mindless violence. So while Winter isn't (and isn't intended to be) the roller-coaster ride of the Tomorrow series, it is certainly worth reading.
Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.
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