The Winter People

The Winter People is by Jennifer McMahon.

It’s been raining a lot lately. And in between the rain there’s wind. The sun pops out every now and then like a friend whose too busy for social times but you bump into them in target and for those brief 5 minutes you feel like excited girls. I almost forget what a hot day feels like. The warm sand, the thirst for cool saltwater against your skin. This is winter in Hawaii.

So as I’m lounging around in sweat pants and under blankets and not tan… it’s of course fitting that I read The Winter People for my first book review.

I’m not really into ghost stories. Amidst all the crazy things I’ve heard and read, there’s something about the supernatural that makes me squeamish. Perhaps it’s that our brief time here in life is emphasized by the idea that things that carry on beyond our time and beyond us seem creepy.

Think about your home, your town, family artifacts, legends… the story these things tell are linear, and go both back in time and forward and we are but a mere dot existing on that line.

The Winter People possesses this quality of thought, this sense of how the past and future ties together in both tangible and otherworldly ways. It takes us to a cold winter in West-Hall Vermont (much colder than Maui) in the early 1900s; the other half of the story is told in present day Vermont.

I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but a big reason why I chose this book was the cover. The romantic imagery of a snow covered field, forest and barn house grabbed my attention and I decided to be swept away to that time and place for a bit.

Here’s a bit From the publisher:

A simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable. 

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. 

I would say thriller is a good word. The story crescendos at first, breaking your heart and then rapidly rises with shock and action. I found myself turning pages like a mad woman, the quickened heart rate of someone sucked into a storyline and suddenly the book was done in two days.

There’s definitely a trigger warning for this book as it deals with infant death, child death and more death, death and death. Despite this, the death was tolerable as the bigger theme of maternal bonds and true love was distracting and thought provoking.

The ending was satisfying. One that tells you how it ends without ending it there. Does that make sense?

Recommended. For sure.

Id rate it 4 feet of snow out of 5. Only ’cause of the gory stuff.

Shout out to Nikki for taking this great photo of the book for me because I passed on the book before taking a picture.

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