I finished Jennifer McMahon's newest book, The Winter People, and still feel a little unsettled, even with sun streaming in the windows. I've read a couple of this author's books in the past and liked her blend of mystery and suspense and things that go bump in the night. A reader of Jennifer McMahon's books is never quite sure if the story has an actual human monster or a monster set in tales told in children's story books.
On her website, this author tells how she got the initial idea for The Winter People from a game that her daughter imagined for them to play. She also dedicates the book to her daughter, Zella, with these words:
Because one day, you wanted to play a really creepy game about two sisters whose parents had disappeared in the woods...
"Sometimes it just happens."
Set in West Hall, Vermont, this is the story of a town that has been plagued over the years with strange legends and disappearances. In 1908, a woman, Sara Harrison Shea, was found dead behind her house. Her daughter, Gertie, aged 8, had been killed a short time before in a tragic accident. Sara became virtually mad with grief. It was said that Sara was seen after she died and her story became a local ghostly tale.
In the present day, Ruthie, age 19, lives in the same farmhouse that belonged to Sara's family, along with her mother, Alice, and her 7-year-old sister, Fawn. One morning, Ruthie and Fawn wake up to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. In their search for clues to her disappearance, they find Sara's diary hidden under the floorboards of their mother's bedroom. And so our scary journey begins.
This was definitely an absorbing story. The reader is given glimpses of the past in entries from Sara's diary and shares in Ruthie and Fawn's frantic search for their mother. It was very hard to predict what might happen. This is a mystery that certainly has some elements of horror included. Plus it's set in winter and cold and the forest is definitely dark and deep. And caves are involved and I felt quite claustrophobic at times.
Although this could be classified as a thriller, at it's heart, this is a story of the grief that people experience when their loved ones are taken suddenly away. And what they might do to have a little bit more time with them. Grief can certainly almost drive a person crazy. It might make you do things you couldn't even imagine.
I will be looking forward to the next book Jennifer McMahon writes and also catching up on her backlist. I think I have at least 2 or 3 more to read. Lovely.
I'll leave you with one last quote:
And as in all fairy tales, there was bloodshed, there was loss.