Solstice Wood –

The World Fantasy Awardwinning author's foray into the modern worldnow in paperbackNo stranger to the realms of myth and magic, World Fantasy Awardwinning author Patricia A McKillip presents her first contemporary fantasy in many yearsa tale of the tangled lives mere mortals lead, when they turn their eyes from the beauty and mystery that lie just outside of the everydayWhen bookstore owner Sylvia Lynn returns to her childhood home in upstate New York, she meets the Fiber Guilda group of local women who meet to knit, embroider, and sewand learns why her grandmother watches her so closely A primitive power exists in the forest, a force the Fiber Guild seeks to bind in its stitches and weavings And Sylvia is no stranger to the woods

10 thoughts on “Solstice Wood

  1. Michelle Morrell Michelle Morrell says:

    Well, this was a lovely book. Standing on the fine line between our world and the land of faerie, a home and its guardians sew confines on all the potential crossing points, expecting protection but actually walling themselves in as well as the enchantment out. A story of family and magic and hot fae in the woods.

    It was optimistic and soothing and full of fiber arts, a particular love of mine. Crocheting spells to weave magic boundaries? A coven built on yarn and fellowship? Yes, please and thank you.

    It's a gentle story of hope and growth and I am thrilled to realize there is a prequel, that I must now go find.

  2. Res Res says:

    The one where Sylvia's grandfather dies and her grandmother calls her home to a house that's a gate between two worlds.

    There's the germ of something wonderful here, and it all clusters around Iris, the grandmother, and her Fiber Guild. Everything in Iris' POV, everything about the Fiber Guild, I loved. The changeling was also wonderful, with a truly alien mind. But I can't recommend this one.

    Part of the problem was the plot's dependence on things I just didn't believe. The human antagonist was completely laughable; I never bought his threats for a moment. And the plot required that the obvious answer to Sylvia's parentage never occur to Iris, which I also didn't believe.

    Second, it was awfully tell-y -- people spent an awful lot of time telling each other about the things they felt, whether that was in character or not.

    And part of my problem was the Mary Sue Specialness of everything in the book. On page 1, Sylvia wakes up in bed with a guy with purple eyes, and it just gets worse from there; nobody has short hair, or eyes of a normal color, or an ordinary, demographically plausible name.

  3. Margaret Margaret says:

    This is my second time reading this, which is a sequel to Winter Rose. The first time, I hadn't read Winter Rose in a couple of years and so couldn't directly compare them, and I felt as though Solstice Wood stood up reasonably well.

    This time, I read them back to back, and oh dear, I thought Winter Rose was much better and didn't like Solstice Wood as much.

    The problem, I think, is the disjunct between the styles and the settings. They're both first person, but Winter Rose has only one narrator, while Solstice Wood has five. McKillip distinguishes their voices well, so I never lost track of who was speaking, but at the same time, I never got to know any of them as well as I did Rois in Winter Rose.

    Winter Rose feels as though it's very much not set in our world, but in a fantasy world McKillip has created. Solstice Wood is very firmly set in upstate New York, and so reading it back to back made the setting not work for me at all. I just could not reconcile the two totally different settings in a way that made it believable that one had become the other, even though years later.

    As a book on its own, Solstice Wood is an interesting look at how a community might deal with having another world in its woods. As a sequel, though, it simply doesn't live up to its predecessor.

    [ETA: edited 4/6/13 to fix idiotic author last name mistake.]

  4. Sarah Bringhurst Familia Sarah Bringhurst Familia says:

    As you can see by the star rating, this book did not impress me much. Which is pretty sad, considering that it's the sequel to Winter Rose, my favorite book for years and years. It was in fact the book I read out loud to my husband when we were first married so that he could truly understand me. (I'm not the only one who does this, right? I mean, it's the obvious next step in a relationship after thoroughly perusing one another's bookshelves) Unfortunately, where Winter Rose is subtle, poetic, and literary, Solstice Wood is, well, not. Next time I'll skip the sequel and just read Winter Rose again instead.

  5. Alyssa Nelson Alyssa Nelson says:

    Solstice Wood follows Winter Rose, set several generations in the future, with the main character being a distant descendant of Rois, who was the main character in Winter Rose. This book almost has the same feel as the first–very much set in nature and has a dreamy, misty sort of atmosphere to it; however, because it’s grounded in present-day I think that it’s a lot easier to buy into right from the beginning than the first one is. Sylvia comes home to go to her grandfather’s funeral and re-discovers the place where she grows up, a place that is haunted by stories of fae and magic and half fae-children.

    It’s a story about self-discovery and identity, especially our identity in relation to our ancestors. Sylvia knows that she’s half fae–half of the very type of being that her grandmother tries so hard to protect the town from, and has a hard time with it, because she doesn’t want to cause a disturbance, but has a hard time being comfortable in her grandmother’s home because of it. What Sylvia doesn’t realize is that the town has a lot of other secrets; a guild her grandmother runs that knits and crotchets and sews magic into the town to try to keep the fae out; other people who are just as fae as Sylvia; and those who are in love with fae people and who find ways around the boundaries that are sewn into the town.

    It’s an enjoyable book, a bit slow-paced, but a really nice story overall. We get the perspectives of Sylvia, Sylvia’s grandmother, and Sylvia’s cousin. Watching how their stories intertwine into something bigger is a joy to read. I also like how many parallels there are to the first book without being repetitive or redundant. I really like McKillip’s take on the world of fae and how they work/think, and I love how Rois’s experience has completely colored everything the town thinks and believes about the fae. It’s a nice lesson on how one incidence can change an entire town for generations in terms of their beliefs and attitudes.

    Because I appreciated it so much in relation to the first one, I’m not sure how enjoyable it would be without reading the first book. While I think the story itself stands on its own, the characters’ journey depends so much on the understanding of Rois’s experiences that I’m not sure how well it would translate.

    I enjoyed this book a lot, but like the first one, I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s a slow and quiet story. If you like fae stories, you would probably enjoy this.

    Also posted on Purple People Readers.

  6. Wealhtheow Wealhtheow says:

    Here's my review from June 2007:

    Bookshop owner Sylvia returns to the family home she's avoided since she was a teen. Confronted with her loving family once more, Sylvia begins to realize that her grandmother is much more than she seems--and that the local sewing circle is far more powerful than she ever dreamed. Their stitches protect the human world from encroachment by the faery world. But when Sylvia's cousin is kidnapped by the fey, she is forced to confront her own prejudices. This is a much more grounded book than McKillip's recent work, which I liked.

    I rated it four stars at the time, but now I've reread it in 2014 and feel the need to knock my rating down. I didn't realize this was a reread until I got 200 pages in, when it started to feel faintly familiar. I've probably read over a thousand books since I last read this, but it's still not a good sign that I didn't remember pretty much anything from it. The characters each have distinctive hair colors, from ivory to flame to gold, but somehow their POV chapters all blend together. Which is not to say I liked nothing; McKillip has a way with words:

    Everything made me want to cry. But I couldn't; tears wouldn't come out. It was stuck inside me, this nasty, monsterish feeling, of something so uncomfortable I couldn't stand it, but I couldn't get rid of it, either. All I could do was hunker down around it, feeling it grow and grow as memories collected, and feeling myself turn into a troll, something surly and mean and snarling, my dank skin growing burls and warts, hoping nobody would come near me because my voice would flare out of me like a welder's fire.
    It's a great description of teen angst and grief, and I love that (view spoiler)[Tyler's own darkest feelings are his best protection against the feys' glamors and enticements. (hide spoiler)]

  7. Kerry Kerry says:

    What a beautiful, lovely book. Solstice Wood is a wonderful blend of the mundane and the mystical, all tied up through misunderstanding.

    Two worlds collided badly in McKillip's Winter Rose and in this book, generations later the reverberations of that are still present. After Rois Melior won Corbett Lynn back from the queen of the winter wood, spells and guardians were put in place to keep the wood folk away and contained.

    If you follow tradition and the path set down by your forebears, is there ever room to re-evaluate the situation and see if perhaps, it is time for tradition to change.

    This, really, is the crux of Solstice Wood. It is beautifully told through differing first person point of view characters. This manner of writing seems odd to me at first, until I realised that all of them had a different view on the same truth and only together could the full story be told and understood.

    McKillip's lyrical writing still shines, but in this modern world tale, it is tempered with the everyday, and I think this probably makes Solstice Wood more accessible to the causal reader. I love the way she writes - I always imagined I would like to write like Patricia McKillip, but less obscure and that's how this book feels. It's still weaves magic with words, but I feel much more like I understood the story than I sometimes do at the end of one of her books.

    This book makes a much deeper, emotional sense if you've read Winter Rose, but it still works alone. All the same, I'd say read both. Why miss out on another good story.

    [Copied across from Library Thing; 5 November 2012]

  8. Whitney Whitney says:

    The multiple 1st person POV was done very poorly in this book. The characters' voices all sounded the same (yes, several of them are related to each other, so this could be understandable), so I would have trouble remembering whose chapter I was on if I stopped reading in the middle of it.

  9. Dyanna Dyanna says:

    I loved more Winter Rose maybe because it had that fairy tale language meanwhile this book occurs in the present days.

  10. Jalilah Jalilah says:

    This book was a very enjoyable read! It would be better appreciated by first reading Winter Rose.
    Set in contemporary times, Sylvia Lynn, the great, great,great granddaughter of Winter Rose's protagonist Rois Melior returns to her childhood home, Lynn Hall after living away for many years. Lynn Hall still is a portal to Faerie and the woods surrounding it are still inhabited by mysterious forces. Since the time of Rois Melior, the local women have learned to bind the forces and close the portals by knitting, embroidering and weaving in a secretive group called the Fiber Guild.
    Sylvia must confront her past and find out where she stands in all this.
    Where as there were parts in Winter Rose that were too repetitive, in Solstice Woods there is not one slow or boring part. However what I missed were Patricia A. McKillip trip like sections that were in Winter Rose where it is impossible to tell dream from reality. In this book the two are always easily discernible. All and all this was a fun read for everyone who likes books where Faerie meets our world.