Cover Image: Daughter of Redwinter

Daughter of Redwinter

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars!

This was great! Medium to slow pace and with an incredibly rich world and fantastic characters. Raine was a compelling protagonist-- practical, capable, but also so interesting in how she adapts to her own experiences and changes to her place in the world. The plot was engaging and complete, the action thrilling and the found family trope was so gradual that it surprised me when it settled neatly into place at the end. 

A special shout out to Ed Mcdonald for writing the most-believable, pitiful and manipulative nice-guy character in this. I did not think that I would find that in a high-fantasy novel, but it was impeccably done. Part of why I enjoyed this so much was because of how well written Raine's experiences with navigating people and how not everyone is necessarily good or bad all the way through. She herself is fantastically imperfect, and by the end of the book, I adored her. 

I would especially recommend this to folks who enjoyed the world of Sabriel by Garth Nix. Draiohn magic, the political push-and-pull of the ruling clans of Redwinter, and Raine cultivating her first genuine relationships with people around her made this read unforgettable. 

Thank you Netgalley and Tor-Macmillan for the e-ARC! This is absolutely one I'm purchasing.
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I ended up putting this book down for now as I couldn’t get into the book. Might try again later and hope it catches my attention then.
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I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed Daughter of Redwinter. I had initially heard about it through a third party, and the jacket synopsis caught my eye. I was lucky enough to receive an advance galley copy, and I'm glad I did. While I was slow to get through this for personal reasons, it was not due to a lack of interest; I often thought about the book when I was away from it.

Despite her 17 years of age, the main protagonist, Raine, is a clever, witty, and not at all irritating character that some this age can be. While she has her teenage angst, it is not overwhelming and works in her favor in this exciting coming of age story.

Ed McDonald has crafted a delightfully detailed fantasy story in an engaging world rife with an intriguing cast of characters and organizations. The story of Raine finding her place in the world is thrilling and enjoyable, punctuated by just the right amount of political intrigue, social conflict, and overcoming odds in a way that does not seem contrived. Through the twists and turns, you find yourself both cheering, and jeering characters as new information is revealed in the larger overall mystery, making the final outcome all the more rewarding. Journeying with Raine while she discovers herself and her place in the world was a fantastic ride. I finished the book's second half in a single sitting, immediately recommending it to my wife.

I'm glad I read this, as I wouldn't have marked it as my usually preferred flavor of fantasy, but I am now eagerly awaiting the next installments and will likely check out Ed McDonald's other works. I can say with high confidence that fans of any fantasy will find something to like here.
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This is the first book in the Redwinter chronicles, it just released in July. I definitely went into this with high expectations which is risky but I’m really glad that didn’t bite me in the butt. What I didn’t expect was this to have like Medieval Scotland influence that was really cool. The book begins at a running pace. When we meet our protagonist Raine she is in a really tough spot, she’s locked in a crumbling stronghold with a cult she’s been traveling with for years and it’s under siege, enemies can attack it at any moment. Then everything changes when she rescues a mysterious girl from her "evil" pursuers and she’s mumbling about strange things. Raine is then thrown into a high level conspiracy by necromancers and ends up a resident at a school for sorcerers. Plus she can see and talk to ghosts and scenes that involve that are very haunting. Actually I have to give props to the author with the way he transitioned scenes in general. I don’t know why that stood out to me so much but it was just done so well, it was smooth and why it kept me reading.

Another large attraction is characterization. Every character in this book is multi-faceted, intriguing, and charismatic enough to leap right off the page. Especially listening to the Audiobook, it is absolutely fantastic and I'm so glad I chose that format to digest this story. This reminded me a lot of the justice of kings. Same trio. The older father figure like man who is the leader. The female protagonist who is kinda the apprentice. And then the young male character who brings the humor. It’s the exact same formula and that must do something for me. The magic aspects tie deeply to the world building and the sinister foreshadowing of a demon filled realm trying to break through. This is absolutely my favorite part and I am praying the next book is just slammed with this.
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4 of 5 stars
My five Word TL:DR Review : Great start to new series

As first in series go Daughter of Redwinter made an impressive start.  Well written, ample world building, sets off with a quick paced and dramatic start and definitely left me wanting to read more.

I’ve read this author before and enjoyed his original series so was excited to see he had a new book about to  release.  To be honest, I absolutely loved that cover and that and the author was enough to make me request this one.  I tend to find these days that the less knowledge I go into the read with the better as my high expectations have less chance of getting  out of control, so, I picked this one up with very little idea of what to expect.  As it happens this is an intriguing world indeed.  I’ve started to form attachments to the characters and more than that I once again found myself enjoying the style of writing which has a gritty earthiness to it.  I wouldn’t call this grimdark more it has a realism that is dark and sometimes harsh in a way that reflects life – although, what, am I talking about?  This world has magic, ghosts, demons and other curiosities.

To  be fair, and given how little knowledge I actually went into this one with I’m a little reluctant to say too much about the plot.  In fact thinking about it now, it’s not that easy to actually pin it down.  We meet Raine as the story begins, she’s in a bit of a predicament and is trying to find an escape route when she comes across an injured woman who she helps to safety.  Now, as it happens this might not have been the best decision and Raine certainly questions her own choices later on but who wouldn’t help out in such a situation?  Anyway, the woman in question is being pursued by one of the Draoihn, who will go to any lengths to capture this woman, or more importantly recover the ancient relic that she carries.  This then forms the catalyst for everything else that takes place and in fact is the start of a mystery that is the central theme of the story.

Characters.  Raine is an interesting character who has led a difficult life.  Seventeen years old, a couple of near death experiences have given her the strange ability to see the dead. This isn’t always a pleasant gift to be sure but more than that it places Raine in a very dangerous situation as such abilities are forbidden and a swift death is the penalty. On top of this Raine encounters a strange woman who appears, at first, to be helping her.  She knows little of this woman other than she doesn’t seem to be a typical ghost or apparition and she can communicate with Raine which is definitely a new and not entirely welcome development.  Raine finds herself travelling back to Redwinter, hoping to become a Draoihn apprentice (having discovered that she has the ability to open the first of the gates) but at the same time fearing discovery in terms of her other magical ability.  There are of course a number of other characters who play strong roles but I’m not going to mention them all here suffice to say that Raine eventually starts to form meaningful friendships and discovers that she likes having friends.  I liked the way Raine’s character developed.  She makes mistakes of course and spends some time blaming herself for events, she can also be very prickly and not altogether likeable given the cold way that she tackles situations (there are reasons for this but I won’t give those away here) and on top of this she finds herself suspecting almost everyone of being party to the main mystery and jumping backwards and forwards before she finally reaches a conclusion.

This is definitely an interesting world although I wouldn’t say that I can at this point speak of it with any real confidence.  There is the Light Above and the Night Below.  Five Crowns, spread across the land, hold the realms together, stabilising the spheres of existence (life, death, creation, etc) and keeping in place a veil that separates mortals from Demons, The Faded, ghosts and the dead.  The Draoihn access magic by opening a gate in their mind that accesses the spheres of existence and provides certain powers), the first gate is the easiest and helps to enhance perception, from there, each gate becomes more difficult to access, each one providing it’s own strengths  ranging from mind control to healing.  I’m actually not doing the best job of describing this so you may be pleased to learn that there is a glossary and list of Dramatic Personae at the end of the book.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I loved the start of this and was really eager to find out what was going on.  The story had great pace and there was plenty of action.  Once our MC reached Redwinter I found that things slowed down considerably, which I don’t mind, I wouldn’t want the entire book to have the same breakneck pacing, but, the middle of the book felt like it dragged its feet a little. I think some of this was the need to explain things, to have Raine listening to lessons and other conversations as a way of feeding information to the reader.  I wouldn’t say that this made me reluctant to pick the book up though  because that wasn’t the case at all, just I felt like things were drifting a little and at this point I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was taking me.

Overall though, a really good start to series.  An intriguing world that I’m keen to learn more of and a main character who has plenty of scope for future development.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.
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I wrote about my thoughts on Storygraph and GoodReads. Because I stopped reading (listening) at about 40% I didn't write a review so much as my thoughts so far. I do plan on giving the book a second chance, but not right now.
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Unique fantasy that I adored. My first book by this author and not my last. It was fantastic  and I really enjoyed my time reading this.
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This is the first book I've read by Ed McDonald, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

Raine can see the dead, and sometimes communicate with them. Unfortunately this ability is feared in her world, and anyone suspected of possessing it is killed. When Raine encounters a badly injured girl, it leads to a world of magic, conspiracy and murder.

I was surprised by many events in this novel, and I loved the characters, including Raine. Most of them had many weaknesses, and I was surprised by many of them. I also liked the magic in the book - both the gravesight and the Draoihn with their "gates." I'll definitely be looking for the next book in the series!

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.  You once again helped me discover a new author!
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I haven’t read Blackwing trilogy, but have heard good things about it from my librarian. So when I saw the author’s name on this book, I had to read it! I felt this was a different kind of fantasy- mixed with literature, dark moments, and world building that is interesting! The world building although high-end, felt a bit overwhelming for me. The story and the characters are compelling tho. The unreliability factor in characters is so well done. Overall a good start to a fantasy series. 

Thanks to Tor books for the gifted book.
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Daughter of Redwinter follows Raine, who 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. When battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter, it becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the plot was well-developed and appreciated the author’s detailed world-building. That being said, I’m not sure I loved the way the main character was written. Raine is canonically bisexual, and it was readily apparent to me that this bisexual female character was written by a straight (or straight presenting) white man. That being said, the McDonald does write female and LGBTQ characters better than most cishet white male fantasy authors. It’s important that I give him credit for that. 

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. But it wasn’t an all time favorite.
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I had high hopes for this dark fantasy because I have heard such good things about this author's other works. While I did enjoy it, the tone wasn't as dark or creepy as I was anticipating. The characters were a bit flat and not as fleshed out as I would have liked. The worldbuilding also fell short. This is a decent fantasy, but not the most interesting or compelling.
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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.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC of the book in exchange for a review.

Amazing piece of fantasy literature!! I love every parts of it. Strong world building and great characters! And let's not forget the solid plot! A must-read!
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*thank you to tor and netgalley for providing me with this arc!*

my thoughts:

- loved raine as a character, especially at the beginning and end
- the elements of found family are there and j can’t wait to see where it goes
- i think the portrayal of loss and kinship is excellently done
- is there the beginnings of a love triangle? maybe? 
- the magic system is cool, reminds me of the villains series by v. e. schwab mixed with the tiniest drop of the poppy war
- i really enjoyed the writing style, especially the humour
- soooo intrigued by the creatures 👀

*thanks again to tor and netgalley!*
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I did not like this book. Great setting and premise, but lacklustre execution. Thank you for the advanced copy but I will not be reading the second one in the series.
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I sure hope this is going to continue. This was a book of soul searching and redemption by Raine, a young woman lost in her soul.
There is magic here, much of it thru mental manipulation of matter.   Some strictly traditional with artifacts and demon like beings.   Raine discovers that love is not being a possession but an equal.   McDonald does a good job portraying a young woman in dire circumstances.   Raine’s ability to see and speak to the dead, places her in peril everywhere she goes.

The heroes are not clear cut.  McDonald shows the vagrancies of human nature and emotion.  There is enough action to keep your interest and it is inspiring to see the growth of Raine.

I recommend the book.
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I enjoyed the story overall.  It could use a bit of filling out on the world-building and I would like more information on the magic (more in depth information) but I would assume this will delve deeper in follow up books.
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I love it when a book surprises me. When you review books you see a lot (and I do really mean A LOT) of middling to average, derivative, instantly forgettable titles under the general fantasy genre umbrella. No pointing fingers or naming authors. It’s just a hazard of the industry. We reviewers simply read the titles and review them for you to help sort the wheat from the chaff. You’re welcome. 

This book is definitely wheat. 

I want to warn you the blurb on Amazon is slightly misleading, so don’t rely on it for veracity as it pertains to the plot. The blurb on Amazon also only (dubiously) covers events that happen in less than the first 10% of the book. Yes, those events create the central conflict for the entire book, but if you think the blurb encompasses any of what the book is actually about or who the actual characters in play are, then BTB (Beware The Blurb). 

This book is mainly about life and death. It’s also about controlling your own life, the lives of others, and the process of grieving (or the lack of it). There’s also a huge dose of how abuse and trauma can permanently affect a person’s psyche. Throw in some class warfare and criticism on class inequality and you’ve hit most of the major plot themes. 

The largest attraction in this entire book is characterization. Every character in this book is multi-faceted, intriguing, and charismatic enough to leap right off the page. Raine, our protagonist, is intense, passionate, and choleric. She’s got the currency of her convictions and she sells it to the people around her with her forthright honesty and self-confidence. Raine knows who she is and what she is and she refuses to let other people call the shots for her when she knows she’s in the right. But she’s also a woman full of rage and trauma who has seen and been through too much in her young life and isn’t willing to let others be stomped down by life if she can help it either. 

If the main character sings out, so do all her companions on the page. Where this book falters just slightly is in imagery, setting, and costuming, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The prose is slightly above average, but that’s fine by me as long as we get brilliant characters. 

I really think a lot of you fantasy readers will like this book if you give it a try. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for granting me early access to this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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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!
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I enjoyed this series debut.  There's a lot of good character and world development, and I look forward to the next  book!
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