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Monday, February 9, 2015

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Do you like fairy tales?  The real fairy tales.  Not the Disney Princesses, but tales of the dark, tales of hidden places in the forest, tales of caves and things that creep about, scratching at the windows, and making you jump.  Well, have I got a book for you.

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.


34 comments:

  1. Wow, this definitely sounds like a book I'd love to read. Intense and sounds like a little horror mixed in, yes this will be on my wishlist.

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    1. A little horror - not too much. Only a little Stephen King thrown in. :-)

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  2. This sounds so familiar to me... now I have to check and see if I have read it. :)

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    1. It's been out for a while, Sheila. You very well may have read it.

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  3. There were some elements of this one that I really liked, but somehow wasn't satisfied with the novel. I do love the cover, though, and I tend to like covers with snow or with snow or winter in the title, which is probably why I chose it. :)

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    1. Have you ever seen any of this author's other covers? All of them have a little girl on the front. Different ones, of course. Also, all of her stories have little girls somehow in the storyline. This is the first that had a more subtle cover.

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  4. You certainly make this sound good, Kay. I have this book in my TBR collection to read, but haven't managed to get to it yet. I enjoy a good thriller, especially one that goes deeper in terms of dealing with character struggles.

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    1. I will say it was an unusual way of dealing with grief. Throw in a little Koontz and a little King and a little Brothers Grimm. LOL

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  5. Ooh that last quote is creepy - I want to read this! I have heard nothing but good things about this one. Great review, Kay!

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    1. That quote just kind of jumped out at me as I was reading. LOL

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  6. Maybe now that I live in a much less snowy place, but I just can't read winter books in the winter! Wait - I just violated that when I read The Winter's Tale! uh oh. Anyway, I know I have passed on books with winter in the title more than I do with books with summer in the title! too funny

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    1. I'm there with you on that front. And I don't live in a snowy place. Some books make me feel like I'm freezing the whole time.

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  7. this sounds JUST like my type of read! i'm into the dark fairy tales, ESPECIALLY something like this! holly black is one of my favorite writers because her books are typically like this. great review! i might have to add this to my TBR!
    http://www.wholly-books.com

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  8. This sounds like an interesting, creepy read. I've never read a Jennifer McMahon book before - it sounds like this will be a good one to start with.

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    1. Belle, her books are a little bit different. Not mysteries exactly, but with a little supernatural thrown in.

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  9. I like with books with atmosphere but don't like unsettling books so mostly stay away from the supernatural!

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    1. Yes, if you are a little skittish about bits of supernatural, this might not be the book for you. Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Jennifer McMahon writes the most deliciously creepy books. I know you will enjoy her back list because it is truly excellent!

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    1. I am definitely looking forward to it, Michelle. Thanks for the encouragement. Deliciously creepy...yay!

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  11. This one is on my list to read! It sounds really interesting, but a little dark, so I'm not sure how much I will enjoy it. But there is something about it that makes me want to read it....

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    1. Kim, I have this little "rule" - 50 pages to connect or move on - you might try it and if it doesn't suit, pick something else. I know that not every book is for every reader. :-)

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  12. Oh what a basis for a story!! It sounds very dark and fabulous. Thanks for visiting my TT https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/teaser-tuesday-february-10/

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    1. Yes, in the woods, dark and deep....

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  13. Goodness, every time I see this book and hear about it, I just want to pick it up right away and read it. It sounds like such an atmospheric, eerie book, even without meaning to!

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    1. If you're in the mood for a creepy read, this one might fit that, Jillian. :-)

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  14. I don't think this is one for me. Not because of the grief factor, but because it just sounds too creepy for me. Can't do it anymore. :)

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    1. Got it. I wouldn't want a full diet of creepy books, but occasionally...yes.

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  15. My answer to your very first question is 'no' so I guess this one is not for me. I never even read them to my kids because I thought they were too creepy. :<))

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    1. No, this one would not be a good match for you, dear Nan. :-)

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  16. I have one of her books but haven't read it yet. This one looks great!

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  17. I enjoyed this book too! It left me feeling haunted as well.

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  18. This sounds scary/sad good! I enjoyed your review.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!