Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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.

ebook, 384 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2014 by Doubleday Canada      

Terri's Review

I received this ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review as it is not set to be released until February 2014.

I was very much interested in this book as I have previously read one of McMahon's works "The One I Left Behind" and I had really enjoyed it.  I will start by saying that these two works are nothing alike.  You would not know that they were written by the same author.  That being said I enjoyed them both equally although for different reasons.

This story alternates between Sara & Gertie's story in 1908 and Ruthie and Katherine's stories in the present day.  Although both storylines are very different there are similar parallels that bind the two stories together.  There is a mystery within each of these storylines that draws the reader in and keeps you holding on to discover what had or will occur.

If I were to describe the genre of this story it would be a mix of historical fiction with a bit of paranormal thrown in.  Two of my favorite themes.  This book outlines the lengths that people would go through to keep their loved ones and try to protect them.

Each of the character's in this story were well written and the main characters likeable.  I particularly identified with Ruthie as coming from a small town I completely understand her need to get out and move on to bigger things.  If I had to get really critical I would say that the character of Candice could have been integrated in to the story in a better way.  Although critical to the story to assist with shedding some light on the "secrets" the twists involving her character did seem a bit random at times.

Since I do not like to retell the story in my reviews or include any spoilers I will leave it at saying this was a read that I was very happy to undertake.  Although taken by surprise that this book did not follow the same kind of theme as McMahon's other work that I have read I was very happy with the change in direction.  It shows that McMahon is a diverse author and has the ability to create very different (and good) stories.  This book has solidified my decision to explore her other works.  A very solid read.

About Jennifer McMahon





  1. Sounds like a good read... I never thought I would like historical fiction, but recently read a few books in the genre and I am hooked!

  2. Nice review and nice blog.

    THANKS for sharing.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog