ISBN-13: 9780385538497
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Hardcover, 336 pgs
Source: Library

"Everyone in town had a story about the Devil's Hand, and though the stories differed in detail, one fact remained the same: it was an evil place, and bad luck to go there." Pg 59

To begin with, The Winter People is a disturbing, unsettling novel. The cold atmospheric setting, the characterisations and there of course the unsettling storyline. 

During the 1900s in West Hall, Vermont, there was a woman named Sara Harrison Shea. She had a happy family with her loving husband, Martin, and a little girl called Gertie. When Gertie was found dead one day, Sara went berserk. Martin tried to do anything to help bring his wife back, but Sara was gone emotionally. She was later found dead tragically one day. Nobody knew what happened; and from then onwards there were rumours that Sara's ghost walks the streets after midnight. The townspeople began to leave offerings on their doorsteps to prevent her from coming inside; and that practice continues to the present day. 

Present day: 19-year-old Ruthie Washburne never really believes in West Hall's rumours. Growing up in an isolated farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and younger sister, Fawn, her biggest dreams is to leave her sleepy town and live a "normal" life where Internet and phones are accessible. Life is simple and blissful for them until Alice goes missing one night. Ruthie only found out about her mother's disappearance the next morning since she was out late with Buzz, a boy whom she hangs out with. But that is not all, she also found an old journal belonging to Sara Harrison Shea hidden at her house. 

On the other end, Katherine is devastated over the loss of her young son, Austin, and her husband, Gary. Gary died in an accident two months after their son's passing. Katherine found out later that Gary visited West Hall on the day he died so she travelled to that place to search for some answers as to why Gary went there in the first place. 

What follows is a series of events that linked Ruthie and Katherine together; and through bits of legends and rumours surrounding West Hall as well as Sara's journal, they find out about the dark, horrific secrets which had happened so many years ago and how some people would do anything to get what they want despite the consequences. 

The Winter People has all the elements of a great psychological thriller. To top it off, the characters are all intriguing and the premise just blew me away. I wish I could say what most bothered me in this story but that would spoil everything. Suffice it to say it has a few topics worth thinking and discussing and the author pulled no punches when the imaginative is concerned; one factor which I truly appreciate in a story like this. A very absorbing story and an unforgettable premise; this would no doubt make it onto my top reads in 2016. 

24 Responses
  1. Marce Says:

    Top reads for 2015 whoooah. Great review, reminds me a little of Amanda Stevens Graveyard series. Have you read any of that series?

    I wonder what the connections are, I enjoy stories like this. I have wanted to read Jennifer McMahon for awhile, think I may have a book actually.

  2. Kay Says:

    I love Jennifer McMahon's books. They are all unique - at least I think so. And all have that touch of creepy, ghostly, weird. You're never sure if there is an actual supernatural influence or if the people are just deluded and mentally ill. Quite the combo. I really enjoyed this one last year and I need to read more of her works. Wonder if she has a new one coming out before long?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I actually have this one on my Kindle since last year and never got to it. You make it sound like I'm missing out on something good :) Thanks for an excellent review. (new follower here).

    And I second Marce above: I enjoyed the first 2 of the Amanda Stevens' Graveyard series also.

  4. Unknown Says:

    Fantastic review! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel last year. It was my first Jennifer McMahon novel and it lead me to seek out her other work. Her work is amazing!

  5. I love her books, especially the creepy Gothic atmosphere she creates. I remember this one being particularly unsettling. Glad you loved it too!

  6. jenclair Says:

    Uh Oh. I'm the dissenting voice. I felt manipulated by The Winter People. Plenty of creepy stuff, but in the end, I didn't much care for it.

  7. I loved this one when I read it as well! She is one of those authors that I will read anything/everything she writes at this point. I loved how creepy this one felt thanks to the setting. It was on my top reads list for the year when I read it as well :) Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Jillian Says:

    I really liked the eerie feel of this book too!

  9. Melody Says:

    Marce - No, I haven't so I'm going to check that out. Thanks! I hope you'll enjoy reading this if you do read it.

  10. Melody Says:

    Kay - Yes, Jennifer McMahon's books tend to have the creepy/supernatural edge to it and I like books like that. I hope she'll have a new book out soon!

  11. Melody Says:

    Rita - Hi Rita! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    I really enjoyed reading this book; in fact I think it was better than her latest, The Night Sister, but that's my opinion.

    Now I need to check out the Amanda Stevens' Graveyard series!

  12. Melody Says:

    Kristina - Thank you, Kristina! Yes, I agree her books are amazing!

  13. Melody Says:

    Diana - Yes, what I enjoy most of her books is the gothic atmosphere and that there's a supernatural edge to it.

  14. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I can see your point but I thought it worked OK with this story. It definitely had me wondering how it'd end.

  15. Melody Says:

    Samantha - Yes, me too! I'm glad to hear it was on your top reads list, too!

  16. Melody Says:

    Jillian - I'm a sucker for books like this. :-)

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I am so curious to read this now and find out what the thing was that bothered you! I do love Jennifer McMahon's writing, from the one book of hers I've read thus far. It was excellently creepy, and I want to read more by her.

  18. Iliana Says:

    Great review Melody! I keep hearing wonderful things about this book and I have it on my shelves but just haven't been in the mood for it. I think I will enjoy it when I finally get to it.

  19. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I love it that her books have both suspense and gothic feel. I'm curious to hear what you'll think of it if you do read it.

  20. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thank you, Iliana! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

  21. Beth F Says:

    I really loved this one -- just the right about of spooky for me.

  22. Melody Says:

    Beth - Yes! I'm definitely looking forward to more of her books!

  23. You reminded me I really want to read this one. I'm also curious what bothered you. Will it bother me to, I wonder? Hmm. Maybe I should find out by reading it. :-)

  24. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I'll be curious to know what you'll think of this book, Wendy! I hope you'll read it soon. ;-)

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear from you.