Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald. I’ve had a streak of disappointing reads recently, but this book broke it! So, I’m excited to be sharing my thoughts about this one.
Those who see the dead soon join them.
From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.
Raine can see–and more importantly, speak–to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness–rescuing an injured woman in the snow–is even worse.
Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.
Pity she might have to die for that to happen…
***Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
Daughter of Redwinter had it all: magic, mystery, philosophy, relevant social/political commentary, and a hint of romance. It truly had everything I like to see whenever I read a fantasy book. The writing was excellent with brilliant descriptions, engaging dialogue, and a steady pace that kept me hooked from the very first chapter. The plot had plenty of twist and turns, and even though I figured some of the twists out in advance of the reveals, the book was written in such a way that I kept second-guessing myself, which kept the reading experience exciting and fun.
The world-building was exquisite, and I loved the magic system and lore. The world felt incredibly real and lived in, and I was surprised by how deep it seemed almost from the start. There was a sense that the civilization was old with a storied history, almost like this book barely scratched the surface of unraveling the mysteries of this world’s past and how they impacted its present. It makes me really excited to see what is in store for the future installments of this series. Despite there being such a seemingly vast history, the author did a great job of utilizing it to facilitate this story rather than overwhelming it with endless minutiae, which can sometimes be the case with fantasy books. It can be a difficult balance to strike, but McDonald did it perfectly here and has whetted my appetite for more while delivering a compelling story.
Raine is now one of my new favorite characters. She was just so compelling and complex, and I found her struggles fascinating to read. Her journey illustrated the dangers of suppressing one’s emotions and the power that can come from experiencing and processing them instead. She also dealt with needing to overcome her fear and figuring out where she belonged in a world that told her she shouldn’t exist. All of the other characters were also three-dimensional with interesting motivations. I liked a lot of them, but Sanvaunt was probably my other favorite. He was mysterious, duty-driven, and aloof, and I swear I fell in love with him when I found out what he was writing in his notebook. It was not what I expected to say the least. lol.
One of my favorite things about fantasy is the ability to explore thought-provoking, relevant social commentary in a relatively non-threatening, and often fun and exciting, way. This book does this so well. It explored the ethics of a society that relies heavily on social dominance for what seem to be very good reasons. I’m curious to see where this discussion goes in future books as the history and roots of the civilization are further explored. There was also a great deal of philosophizing in this book, and it was integrated seamlessly into the story. I loved the discussions on the nature of evil and what it means to be truly free while one lives and participates in society. I was honestly surprised by just how much thought-provoking material was packed into this one book, and I’m still thinking about a lot of it days after finishing it.
Overall, Daughter of Redwinter is an excellent start to a new fantasy series. I can’t think of anything critical to say about it, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and declare it my second ever instant favorite!