A CITY IN WINTER by Mark Helprin

A CITY IN WINTER

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 10 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two great fantasists weave threads teased from their previous collaboration, Swan Lake (1989), into a stylish tale of loyalty and rebellion set in a city of Brobdingnagian proportions. Having been raised in secret by her beloved tutor, a princess sets out to confront the brutal upstart who killed her parents and grandparents. She finds in his capitol a million loyalists and former soldiers, all united by an oath of rebellion, waiting for a leader whose coming, a prophecy claims, will be heralded by a dimmed sun and a burning angel. Helprin's whimsical tone and satiric character studies will appeal mostly to adults, but the sheer scale of the city he envisions will enthrall readers of any age; just to get into the palace, the princess becomes one of three thousand employees in the yam section (not to be confused with those for potatoes, rices, and meat pie crusts) of the starch kitchens, later working her way up to flower refresher in one of the smaller dining rooms (for "only a thousand guests"). Van Allsburg's 13 tableaux vary in style: Some are drawn and painted with exquisite precision, others a bit more free in line and composition. The usurper is a towering, scarred figure; the princess is a small, tidy child positively aglow with regal self-possession. As this is framed as a memoir, the outcome is never in doubt; readers will take the most pleasure here not from the plot, but from the richly imagined details. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-670-86843-4
Page count: 145pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1996




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