The Returning by Christine Hinwood (2011)

Why me? Cam would ask him, Lord Ryuu’s son. Why? It may be the answer was what he had been seeking.
And so he left them, the safety, the prison of family and friend and village. Through Castle Cross he rode on and on, north and away. And that was it–was everything and more and enough. For now (p 88).

thereturningIn this serenely paced debut novel, Hinwood examines the effects of war on a community. Cam was the sole survivor from his small Downlander town of Kayforl after their loss in the war against the invading Uplanders. He returns without an arm to a community that wants answers for the deaths of its other members. Unwilling to relive the war or explain his return, Cam faces suspicion. At home, his father’s unwillingness to assign Cam work makes him feel a prisoner. He leaves for the North, for answers as to why the Lord’s son, Gyaar, spared his life.

Chapters follow different characters from Cam’s town and from the capital where the victors reside. The edges of these vignettes overlap and make a whole at the end. The plot is nuanced and the interactions are loaded with subtle glimpses into the truth of these people and their lives…

But I found myself very uninterested. The book was well done, I believe it accomplished what it set out to do, it just wasn’t a story I was interested in as a whole. Some of the storylines were more interesting than others but I didn’t feel wholly satisfied with any of them. I enjoyed the writing and the pace, I just didn’t connect strongly with the story or the individual characters to feel invested.

There is a good review from Kirkus that explains much of what is excellent about this novel. Other reviews: A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea CozyPublishers WeeklySFWPChachic’s Book Nook and Persnickety Snark.

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