The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon [Review]

Posted 10 February, 2014 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 0 Comments

The Winter People Book Cover The Winter People
Jennifer McMahon
Thriller, Mystery
Doubleday Canada
February 11, 2014
eBook, print

West Hall has always been a town of strange disappearances and legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found murdered in the field behind her house in 1908, a few short months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie, drove her mad. People say that Sara's ghost still walks after dark, and some leave offerings on their doorstep to keep her from entering their homes uninvited.

Now, in present day, Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they remain on the fringes, living off the land without internet or outside interference. But one morning Ruthie wakes up to find that Alice has disappeared without a trace. When she searches the house for clues, she is startled to find a secret compartment beneath the floorboards that contains two objects. One, a gun. And two, a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary.

The story the diary tells is one of a mother skating on the edge of sanity, willing to do whatever she can to bring her daughter back even if it means dabbling in dark and dangerous territory. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's death, she discovers that she's not the only one looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.


The story of a little girl named Gertie who died.

Whose mother loved her too much to let her go.

So she brought her back.

Only the world she came back to wasn’t the same.

She wasn’t the same.

I requested this book from NetGalley and PRAYED that I would be approved. You might have heard my squeal of joy when I was granted approval to read it and give an honest review.

These days, I don’t read most books more than once. My To Read list is too long and too full of great books I haven’t read yet. Every once in awhile, though, I read a book that makes me want to flip back to the beginning and read it again. When I read that sort of book, it gets five stars.

I’m a big fan of Jennifer McMahon. I find her stories eerie, spooky, slightly scary and enormously entertaining. I was highly anticipating The Winter People and it did not disappoint. I was even thinking about it this morning, the weight of the entire story on my shoulders, on my mind.

This novel is told in dual time periods via entries from Sara Harrison Shea’s diary from 1908-1910 and present day Ruthie, Alice and Fawn who live in the same house. As always, McMahon introduces a little bit of black magic via Sara’s Auntie, who tells Sara of how to make the dead undead, that is bring the dead back to life. This information becomes necessary when her beloved daughter Gertie disappears and is found later at the bottom of a well.

Many years later, Alice is raising her two daughter after the death of her husband. They live ‘off the grid’ and under the radar, a decision that proves to be a problem when Alice disappears into thin air one morning. Ruthie searches the house for reasons as to why Alice would leave and finds clues that don’t make sense– two wallets belonging to people who’ve been missing for years and a loaded gun. As well, a backpack with an expensive camera and sensitive information. These items, as innocent as they seem, bring Ruthie and young Fawn into the story of Sara Harrison Shea and the ‘Sleepers’, or the undead.

I love a story with a lot of layers and details and fine fibers that wind together. What happens in 1908 has a direct effect on Present day Ruthie and Alice and unbelievably, the past completely collides with and is enveloped in the present.

I don’t want to give away too much, I’ll just say that “Sleepers never sleep“. Auntie said that if a Sleeper took a life during the seven days they walk the earth after awakening, they don’t go away again… they are stuck here forever. Let that bit of information guide and inform you!

I truly enjoyed this book and could see re-reading it quite soon.

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