Friday, June 23, 2006

The Gods in Winter

I came across this title by reading Colleen Mondor's blog Chasing Ray - she writes a great little reflection on it and plans to include in in a sci-fi fantasy column she's writing for this fall. Mondor is a writer and reviewer for Book Slut, an online literature magazine, and for Booklist & Eclectica. She writes a lot about children's & YA lit, and I enjoy reading her reviews & reflections. So, since we seem to have similar tastes, this summer I decided to pick up some of the books she's mentioned in her blog. The Gods of Winter is the first of them that I've read.
As she says in her blog entry, The Gods in Winter is a particularly British book, one of those classic children's stories that combines mystery, adventure and fantasy. The Bramble family has relocated to a rather peculiar estate in the Midlands that has been converted into a research facility. A new addition to the Bramble family is on the way, so Mrs. Bramble decides to hire a bit of house help. Mrs. Korngold is a perfect fit - she's good with the baby and the children, a great cook and takes good care of the house. She's a bit odd, though. The children begin to notice that strange things happen in Mrs. Korngold's presence, and it soon becomes obvious that Mrs. Korngold is more than just your average housekeeper.
Young readers may not at first recognize the story is a retelling of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, but those who know their Greek myths may have the pleasure of unraveling the tale as it goes along. It doesn't matter if you figure it out or not, The Gods in Winter is, like The Penderwicks, another retro style story for children - although this time it's retro because this is a republication of a book that has been out of print for several years. Inspired by the lovely afterword to this edition written by fantasy author Tamora Pierce, I've tried to do a bit of digging and discover the history of the book, but I've had little success. Apparently it was first published in 1978, although the setting of the book seems to be much earlier, perhaps in the 1950s. Miles wrote a few other books, including Nobody's Child, published in 1975 and now also out of print. The Gods in Winter is now available through Front Street Books and, like The Penderwicks, I think it's a great summer read for kids. There are, unfortunately, many typos in this edition, but I doubt many young people will notice while caught up in the story of the Bramble family.

Miles, Patricia. The Gods in Winter. Asheville, NC: Front Street Books, 2005.

What I'm Reading: James Madison: A Biography by Ketcham
On My Bookshelf: Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers


Blogger Colleen said...

I'm glad you liked the book Anita! It's a nice story, isn't it? There's a little bit of creepiness and foreboding but nothing overwhelming or awful. And once you do get the myth it's based on, the whole story becomes more fun.

Thanks for the kind words about my site too - I really appreciate it.

9:03 PM  

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