Cam Attling comes home from war one-armed, broken and alone. The villagers of Kayforl want to know why Cam is alone. What happened to the other men that went to war with him? Why was he nursed back to health by the enemy? Sent home with the gift of a fine grey horse? Cam can’t answer these questions. But they burn deep within, eventually driving him back to the North, the land of his enemies, and forever changing him.
Set in the 4th century, in an unspecified land that nevertheless feels somewhat English, Bloodflower opens from the third-person perspective of Cam’s youngest sister Pin. It then shifts through a wonderfully enigmatic range of characters, whose orderly lives have been impacted by invaders from the North. Amid loss and defeat, shifting alliances, the influx of refugees, and the wonderfully drawn humanity of both victor and vanquished, Christine Hinwood tells a tale of war and displacement that could have occurred in any age.
BloodfIower is not an easy read. The dialogue is pithy, fast moving and at times almost cryptic. It shifts perspective constantly. Nevertheless it is a compelling and deeply satisfying story – a tale to be read and re-read, for the sheer beauty of its language alone. I would recommend it for upper-secondary school readers, and as a wonderful apolitical supplement to any study of war and conquest.
If asked to describe this novel in only one word, I would have to say: sublime.