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Daughter of Redwinter
The Redwinter Chronicles #1
by Ed McDonald
Tor, $27.99, 352pp
Published: June 2022

Raine can see - and speak - to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she's made some spectacularly bad choices along the way.

But it is a rare act of kindness - rescuing an injured woman in the snow - that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made.

Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she's stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation.

Though she might have to die to make it happen . . .

From the moment I began reading this book, my first thought was how unexpected and different it was for a fantasy novel. First, we have a protagonist who does not see herself as heroic and certainly at times does not act like it. She is complex and full of layers but most of all, her magic is one I've rarely seen in a fantasy setting.  She is charismatic and her personality and her struggles will sweep you up into the story. She and the secondary characters are addictive and this novel is impossible to put down. The novel is rich, unexpected and absorbing

Besides the characters, each unique and a joy to read, the entire magical system is unique and at least very differently presented from the magic I've seen before. I love the way Raine hears the patterns of the magic in her head but more, I like her ability to see and speak to the dead. I also like the difficulties in her having those abilities and her willingness to help despite how dangerous it is to her to do so. True heroism is doing the right thing despite the potential cost to yourself and nowhere have I seen that better presented than in this novel. The intrigue and magic is deeply intriguing and I can't wait to read more.

If you like a different flavor to your fantasy, something with a darker edge and flawed heroes, I highly recommend this new novel by Ed McDonald. It looks like it is going to be a compelling series with incredible characters and brilliant writing. Every moment of reading this novel was rich, unexpected and absorbing.

Rating: 5 out of 5 arrows. ~~ Andrea Rittschof

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