Troubador Midwinter Folk

Released: 28/09/2019

ISBN: 9781838590642

eISBN: 9781838596781

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Midwinter Folk


When Rowan’s parents divorce, her brother Luke turns ‘cold and strange’, and suddenly Rowan starts hearing voices. Is someone stalking her or is she going mad? London is caught in the grip of the coldest winter on record. The Thames freezes over and the streets are half-buried by snow.

Rowan soon realises that Luke has been snared by the enemy; the voracious Hunters who want ‘power over all’, and finds that she is running for her life across the increasingly bizarre landscape of the frozen city. It takes a journey into the treacherous depths of Midwinter to save not only Luke, but all that she holds dear.

The old lady looked long into Rowan’s eyes. In the green depths Rowan thought she could see faces amongst leaves, human-like, creature-like, deer running in the shadows of a great forest. “They are in for the kill, Rowan. Remember you have allies. But take care, for ‘The Hunters’ have many spies.”

I don't usually read fantasy novels but this one really gripped me. It's an incredible achievement for a first time author, with the worlds of Summerland and Midwinter richly imagined, and builds to an impressive climax that had me sneaking upstairs - away from invited guests - to read the final chapters!

The hero/ine of the piece is like Frodo Baggins - unsure of her ability, full of anxiety, yet grows through her challenges and adventures into a brave soul yet still vulnerable, still motivated by her simple desire for family.

Part One of the book, set in a frozen London, is dark and menacing and I found this a little tough going. However, once Rowan and her brother Luke travel to Summerland and the adventure proper begins, I found myself completely absorbed in their story. Part 3 becomes much darker as a Mordor-like territory is richly imagined. The author pulls no punches in describing some of the more grisly things that take place there - vegetarians take note!!

I sincerely hope Rebekah has another book up her sleeve, it would be interesting to see what else she can conjure up in that fertile imagination of hers!

by Tim Moran

A beautifully crafted debut novel which takes classic fantasy themes and blends them with current issues. I especially loved that the central character is an ordinary little girl who has inner strength despite being scared and uncertain. Many of the strongest characters are female and this is so refreshing in the world of fantasy literature. I found that the story quickly pulled me in and was well paced leading up to an exciting final chapter. For children, this story could be quite scary, but I would say that if your child is okay with the earlier Harry Potter, novels, then they will probably be okay with this. Great read for the older child/teenager who enjoys Philip Pullman or JK Rowling.

by Sally Faulkes

This book was such a joy to read. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately but this was the perfect read to bring me back to reading.

by Suzanne Waters

Midwinter Folk is an enjoyable story which took me on the adventures of the heroine, Rowan. This magical fairy tale is Rebekah Clayton’s first childrens’ book which is centred around a young girl who is destined to undertake a treacherous journey and quest to save her brother and all that she knows. Rowan struggles with keeping her family together and completing her quest with the help from her friends. The discoveries of Rowan’s new abilities and who she really is, along with the troubles of her family life, will help this story resonate with many young people.

Midwinter Folk has all the great features a child’s fantasy novel should have: villains, self-discovery, mystical people and places, trusting and knowing supporters of the main character, a deep driven reason to complete the quest. I found myself comparing this book to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The vivid descriptions enable the reader to visualise the scenery and the characters, some of which are quite graphic and gruesome. Readers who have a spot for animals or are a little squeamish may find a few of the scenes in the final part of this book unnerving. Some of the descriptions were confusing; for example, I was unsure of the age of Rowan and got a bit lost in some of the battle scenes, however, this did not take away the true enjoyment of the storyline.

by Betanda

Despite odd pacing—never quite slow, but varying between steady and breakneck—Midwinter Folk was a very enjoyable read. I found myself caught up in the characters, thinking about them not just when they weren’t on the page, but also at times when I had to put the book down to do other things. There was a moment or two that made me wince a little and wonder how suitable this is for children, which is not a thing I usually do, but I know I absolutely would have lost myself in this story when I was young.

by Rowan

This book was such a joy to read. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately but this was the perfect read to bring me back to reading.

by Suzanne

I really enjoyed this magical book. I was able to get lost in the story for a few hours and that's how you know a book is good. I'm not sure I would label this a children's book, however. Can't wait to read more by the author.

by Rachel

This is a lovely, rather old fashioned children´s fantasy, in the sense that like many classic children´s tales it is heavily inspired by fairy tales, in this case celtic folklore. There is little focus on technology and more on relations between the characters as the main character is also dealing with her parents divorce, her mum is turning every penny and her father is not much around and her brother has become alienated from the family. Although of course in this case there turns out to be an underlying sinister reason for why all of this has happened to this family. I´m sure a lot of today´s children can relate with many of the every day challenges Rowan has to deal with and at the same time enjoy the fairytale that unfolds as well. I find it a bit hard to judge the proper age group for this book, the main character is still a child and thinks and acts as one, so I would say that on the whole this would be a suitable read for 9-12 years old, but at the same time there´s hinting about darker subjects that would suggest an older reading group.

by Helga

Readers who adore the old-fashioned Fairy Tales (prior to dilution for modern consumption) will adore MIDWINTER FOLK, a beautifully detailed and lyrically imagined panorama of a slightly near-future London and Yorkshire (think ICE DIARIES), in what appears a new Ice Age; and the "other worlds," those of the Fae and the Foul Folk--so close to mundane reality that if we could only "polish the glass" we could see. So close....that they can reach through and touch us...with their icy wintry fingers...and their blazing-eyed hounds....

by Mallory

Rowan doesn’t understand why her brother Luke has turned so “cold”towards her. They have always been best friends. When she goes skating with a friend on the Thames River, Rowan is followed and attacked by dogs. She doesn’t get hurt but she is scared. Her mother gets a phone call and must have
Luke and Rowan go stay with grandma. Grandma says yes but grandpa is ill. They take a train to the village. Rowan gets almost attacked by the same dogs but is saved by the conductor. When she and Luke arrive at the village no one is there to take them to grandma’s home. After a short period of time a friend of Grandma’s picks them up explains that they will stay at her place as she has more room at her home. It will make it easier for grandma to take care of grandpa. One day Rowan follows Luke to see what he is doing. Along the way Rowan gets a new friend named Charli. Charli takes Rowan to the healer in their gypsy camp. Charli and Rowan decides that they must discover where Luke went when he disappeared after doing a spell. They do the spell and go to follow Luke. Will they find him? Will they get back to grandma’s friend?

This was a terrific action-pack, adventure-filled story. It is good vs. evil. I loved following Rowan’s journey to find her brother. The novel involves the whole family in different ways as they try to find understand what their role is after their parents divorce. It’s also about learning to trust yourself and to do the right thing.

by Susan

The protagonist of ‘Midwinter Folk’ is Rowan. Her age isn’t given but she’s stated as being in Year Six at school, which makes her 10-11. Following her parent’s divorce Rowan is disturbed when her older brother Luke becomes ‘cold and strange’. Then Rowan starts hearing voices. Is she going mad?

With London in the grip of the coldest winter on record, Rowan and Luke are sent by their mother to York to visit their grandparents. Yet the countryside proves even stranger and then Luke goes off with a sinister group oblivious to his sister’s concerns.

Rowan learns of the dangers facing them and of her own destiny after she befriends Charli, a girl of her own age who is a member of the Wandering Folk. Charli’s Aunt is a wise woman who is able to alert Rowan as to the nature of the danger facing Luke and sends both she and Charli on a quest into the Otherworld. There they make contact with Faerie and magical creatures and again are sent on a journey.

This was a hard story to summarise though I was delighted at how artfully Rebekah Clayton embraced the folklore and mythology of Britain to weave this fantasy with its mixture of the modern and the timeless.

I know that judging a book by its cover is dangerous but I loved this one by artist Amanda Clark and after reading the novel it was clear that it had well represented the enchantment within.

I found that the descriptions were vivid and lyrical. Most of all ‘Midwinter Folk’ evoked a sense of nostalgia for those classic works of British fantasy where young people stumble into a wider reality. The winter setting and the sinister hunters especially brought to mind Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ sequence. Yet there were also reminders that it is set in the modern day with references to popular culture and technology.

Still, I did have concerns. ‘Midwinter Folk’ is listed on U.K.’s school reading list site as suitable for ages 12-16. Given its dark themes and some disturbing scenes, this feels right though Rowan’s young age might well attract younger readers. In addition, that stunning cover feels more suitable for a children’s book.

Aside from the age appropriate issues, I also felt that there were aspects of the plot that weren’t explained leaving me a bit confused. The ending also felt rather rushed and a bit disconnected. I wondered if this was intentional or if a sequel is planned to further explore Rowan’s destiny.

Overall I enjoyed it.

by Vivienne

Rebekah Clayton

Rebekah Clayton grew up in punky 1970s London. Although she was attracted to the energy and rebellion of the times, she also had a passion for nature, 19th C novels, folk rock and Pre-Raphaelite art.

Her childhood home had been built opposite a dark and spooky Victorian pile, named 'Bleak House' by the locals. Its forbidding and overbearing presence awoke her imagination, and, along with the short stories of Oscar Wilde and the novels of the Brontes, gave her a fascination for all things Gothic: ghosts, ruins, spirits, fairies, graveyards and times long past.

She immersed herself in creativity: writing, reading, painting, learning herb and folklore and music - singing in various rock bands. At college she studied Art and later, at university, English Literature.

Rebekah earnt money in various ways from au pairing to being a shorthand secretary.

Her favourite venture was owning an organic shop & cafe. Rebekah has two wonderful children and they live in the beautiful county of Derbyshire.

She recently achieved a first class honours degree in Creative Writing and won the Percy Snowden prize.

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