"The Winter Players" (published 1976) is a young adult novella by Tanith Lee. A young priestess must leave her shrine to recover a sacred relic stolen by a stranger. Her journey will not only take her across a world she has never seen, but also years she has never lived.
"The Winter Players" has a lovely storyline that by the end of the story is harmoniously complete, feels richly right, yet is unexpected. Tanith Lee pulls her ending out of the hat like a magician, appropriately for a book in which magic plays a key role. So at the end the world and time are put to rights.
Despite being a young adult book there are some profound insights into human nature, into how evil comes into play and moves people. For what apparently are the best reasons we do wrong. And it can take a miracle to undo what we have done.
"The Winter Players" also has a story which loops round on itself in time, and I'm a sucker for time travel stories.
Poignant and beautiful.