Saturday, 30 September 2017

Holiday Reads Mini Review #3: THE WINTER PEOPLE by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Winter People
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Read: September 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

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.

My musings:

The Winter People was one of the books that stowed away in my suitcase, and I was looking forward to a chilly, spooky read that would make a stark contrast to hot sunny beaches – there's nothing like chilling with a good book! Within the first couple of chapters, McMahon had broken my heart as I followed Sara’s tragic account of how she lost all her babies and her beloved daughter Gertie – who would not go crazy with grief and pain in her situation? The atmospheric writing transported me effortlessly into a bleak, snow-covered landscape, chilling my heart and soul.
I really enjoyed the dual time frame and different POVs, which served to make the story more relevant to our present time than a purely historical account could have done. For me it managed to forge a strong  link between the past and present.
This was a bleak and often desolate story, which had its power in the unknown, the mystery surrounding Sara and the legacy of terror living on in her house. The first half of the book duly delivered on its promised creep factor, which made me feel like sleeping with the lights on and the closet doors firmly locked. For me, the story was being let down by its ending, which tried to explain the mystery surrounding Gertie and added unnecessary horror elements, which distracted from the brilliant mystery the author had constructed and forced me to suspend disbelief, which I’m not good at. Why? Up until then, the horror had been communicated in artfully disguised and chilling scenes that showcased McMahon as the skilful writer she is: the scene where Ruthie admires Candice’s house and suddenly notices that everything is dusty and broken was simply brilliant.
Overall, I admit regretfully that didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would, though I loved the author’s writing style and am keen to read her other works.

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