Book Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

I didn't love this one as much as I'd hoped but I think it's my own fault.



The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Released February 2014

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon 

Source:  Library Loan
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.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search 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 into the historical mystery, she discovers that she's not the only person looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

My 2 Cents For Free!

I’m going to say this right up front even though I know people will yell at me for it but that is nothing new. I read this book for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Community Readalong while I was doing a re-listen of Pet Sematary and yes, I now realize that this was a very dumb idea indeed and I do NOT recommend doing so to any of you because both books have some very similar themes. “Sometimes, dead is bettah" and that’s all I’ll say about that. I know it’s never a good idea to compare one writers work to another but in this case it was impossible not to do so as I was reading them both at the same time and it is 100% my own damn fault.

The King book will destroy you emotionally. It does grief so exquisitely that it breaks your heart as if the grief were your own. It takes its time making you feel it all deep within every one of your bones and it remains hyper focused on fleshing out all of the awful/terrible/heartbreaking feelings as Louis Creed is faced down with nothing but terrible choices. The Winter People doesn’t give itself enough time to ponder the grief of the situations its characters face because it throws in so much other. Much of the other was unnecessary to the core story, if you ask me, and I felt that it took away from the compelling storyline set in the past. But this is just my opinion, of course, and you are getting what you paid for here. I know people love this book. Please don’t come at me because I didn’t fall madly in love. I wanted to but sometimes love is elusive.

This is a haunting story of grief and emotional turmoil and there is also a mystery or two or three. There is a timeline based in 1908 and a timeline set in the current day. As I said up there somewhere, my favorite timeline was the one set in the past. I had so many questions and felt an amazing sense of time and place and I needed to know all the answers. It was atmospheric and eerie as hell and gripped me right away. Honestly, I never wanted to leave 1908. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about the story or the characters in the present day. They weren’t nearly as compelling or interesting and they only seemed to add confusion to the story. Or maybe it’s just my faulty brain.

At any rate, this book is a difficult one to review which is why I’ve put it off for several weeks now. The writing in the beginning was five star material but somewhere after the first quarter things got too bogged down and it began to hurt my brain. There is a big reveal in the end that simply didn’t ring true to me because one character wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to buy into the situation – and that’s all I can say about that. There’s also another decision made near the end that left me . . . frustrated. Again, that one comes down to characterization. Had the plot not been quite so over-stuffed there may have been more space to explore the characters and understand some of their decisions.

I can say this book kept me guessing and it kept me reading and the early parts were spectacular so I’m giving it a 3 for those reasons.

I will leave you with my favorite creepy quote:

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket. Just the right size for a girl like me.”

3 out of 5 Stars



Comments

  1. I read The Night Sister by this author and really liked it. I have this one but have never picked it up. Maybe eventually. It IS kind of hard to compete with Stephen King right?

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    1. Yeah, King really is a master at characterization. I haven't read The Night Sister. Maybe I'll give that one a try.

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  2. I liked this one more than you did, but I also wasn't reading one of King's awesome novels at the same time. ;D

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    1. Yeah, it was some unfortunate timing for this book.

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  3. It doesn't sound bad but sorry you didn't love it. I can only read one books at a time. My mom used to have a book in every room and read whatever book was there. I cannot do that.

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    1. Ha, yeah, if the plots are similar I easily get my wires crossed. I should probably stick to two different genres.

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  4. Sorry it did not live up to your expectations. I get to understand its not wise to read two books of similar genre at the same time.

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  5. I wonder if you would have liked it better if you read it at a different time? Pet Semetary is hard to compete with😬

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  6. I do love those snowy kind of covers! It's a pity you didn't get more from the book.

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    1. Yeah, it's ok. I can't love 'em all as much as I'd like to.

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  7. It wasn't just you, but yeah... that was not a good combo of books to be reading at the same time. LOL.

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  8. I can see where reading two books with similarities like this would be problematic, especially if one really outshines the other. This does sound like it has some good things going for it though.

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    1. Yep, it's a terrible idea and I don't recommend it!

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  9. I'm so curious about the first part of this book now!

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