Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Review of "The Winter People"

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself. 

A Review of “The Winter People”
Written by Jennifer McMahon

I remember when this book first came out. I was tempted to purchase it at the time, but I eventually chose to go in a different direction. However, when I saw the paperback in the store recently (nearly a year later), I figured I’d give it another shot. Despite the fact that I've written several dark fiction pieces, I rarely read books like this. To be honest, “ghostly” stories tend to creep me out, and The Winter People succeeded at doing this on several occasions. I was looking over my shoulder each night after reading it, going to bed with a clear uneasiness. I suppose this is a compliment to Jennifer McMahon. She triumphed at bringing out some of my worst fears.

The story revolves around events that occur more than a century apart, yet they are tied together through setting and family. I won’t get into the details, as you can read more about the plot above, but this book was a mystery filled with horror and psychological intrigue. I've read some reviews where people thought the back-and-forth between the present and past proved to be confusing. However, I had little difficulty with this. There might have been times, at least early on in the book, where I had to remind myself of who a few of the characters were, but it became much easier to follow as the story progressed. In fact, the flashbacks were one of its greatest strengths. The manner in which the author discloses information, a little bit at a time, made the mystery that much harder to figure out.  

I flew through this book in just a few days. It was that engaging. I figured out a couple of things before they were revealed but most of the “whodunit” went unsolved until the very end. There were many twists and turns, and I experienced a variety of emotions by the time I was done with it. The Winter People was raw fear, tragedy, and beauty all wrapped into one. Even if you don’t care for scary tales, the search for the unknown will likely keep you turning the pages. Give it a try. I highly recommend it. 

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