The Winter People [NOOK Book]

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the ...
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The Winter People

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
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  • The Winter People
    The Winter People  

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Terrence Rafferty
McMahon is a scrupulous writer, nicely attentive to nuances of character and landscape.
Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
In this scary thriller, McMahon (The One I Left Behind) explores how far people will go to save the ones they love, and what results when they go too far. In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea, a resident of West Hall, Vt., becomes convinced she can bring her murdered daughter back to life. In the present day, 19-year-old Ruthie Washburne’s mother vanishes from their farm without a trace, forcing Ruthie to research West Hall’s dark history of disappearances, animal sacrifice, and inexplicable phenomena. Ruthie’s chilling discovery that Sara was found murdered with her skin removed a few months after her daughter’s burial raises the stakes. Almost every character is imbued with a great deal of psychological depth, which makes the stereotypical portrayal of Auntie, a Native American sorceress, all the more disappointing. McMahon is more successful when she deftly switches between past and present, using the changes in perspective to increase the tension. Author tour. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Everything you could want in a classic ghost story.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Light in the Ruins
 
“One of the year’s most chilling novels. . . . Enthralling.”—The Miami Herald
 
“Crisp, mysterious and scary. . . . Reminiscent of Stephen King.” —USA Today
 
“A hauntingly beautiful read.” —Oprah.com  
 
The Winter People is hypnotic, gripping and deeply moving. . . . A dream from which I didn't want to wake.”  —Lisa Unger, author of In the Blood 

“McMahon is a scrupulous writer, nicely attentive to the nuances of character and landscape.... The mournful voice of Sara Shea lingers in the memory, and McMahon, wisely, gives her the last word.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“An edge-of-your-seat scary ghost story. . . . I will never look at the woods behind my home in the same way again!” —Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence
 
“Not a book to be read late at night, or in a creaky old house, The Winter People is a literary thriller to savor.” —Shelf Awareness 

“Deliciously terrifying. . . . Jennifer McMahon knows how to conjure your darkest fears and nightmares . . . pulling you deep into the forbidden, secret world of The Winter People.” —Chevy Stevens, author of Always Watching 
 
The Winter People blends the anguish of loss and the yearning for connection into one great story, well told.”  —Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
 
“McMahon gives readers just what they want: can’t-put-it-down, stay-up-until-dawn reading. . . . [The Winter People] is also a poignant reminder of what grief can drive humans to do.” —BookPage  
 
"Gives a fresh twist to a small-town ghost story.” —The South Florida Sun-Sentinel 
 
“Hard to put down.” —The Oklahoman 

 

Library Journal
09/15/2013
A century after Sara Harrison Shea was found dead behind her Vermont house following the tragic loss of her daughter, Ruthie lives in the same house with her sister and their mother, Alice. When Alice disappears, Ruthie reads Sara's crumbling diary and sees eerie parallels. Twisty psychological suspense following the New York Times best seller Promise Not To Tell.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-07
A peaceful Vermont village turns creepy in this tale of the dead returning to life. Sara Harrison Shea's precious daughter, Gertie, dies in 1908 during a harsh and unforgiving winter in which her mother and father, Martin, struggle to keep food on the table. Gertie isn't the first child Sara has lost, but her death is the one she has the most difficult time accepting. When she refuses to believe that Gertie is gone forever and blames Martin for her loss, Sara sets in motion a tragic and horrifying chain of events that will forever change the lives of everyone around them. Flashing back and forth between Sara's time period and the present, the author evokes a sense of suffering and hopelessness as she gathers a cast of characters who bring out the worst in one another: the mysterious, otherworldly Auntie who raised Sara and died before Gertie's birth; the present-day sisters, Ruthie and lemur-eyed, feverish Fawn, who live with their mother, Alice, known in the town as the Egg Lady; and Katherine, newly arrived, a recent widow and artist who is also mourning her lost son. Alice and her late husband were careful to shield their daughters from the outside world, forbidding them access to the Internet, television and other technology, and home-schooling Ruthie. So when Alice vanishes, Ruthie's search for her causes her to cross paths with people and things she doesn't understand. McMahon, a masterful storyteller who understands how to build suspense, creates an ocean of tension that self-implodes in the last two-thirds of the book. That's when her characters make implausible decisions that cause them to behave like teens in low-budget horror films who know there's a mad killer on the loose, yet when they hear noises in the basement, they go down alone to investigate anyway. Although she writes flawless prose, McMahon's characters' improbable choices derail her story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385538503
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 8,466
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

JENNIFER MCMAHON is the author of six novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Island of Lost Girls and Promise Not to Tell. She graduated from Goddard College and studied poetry in the MFA Writing Program at Vermont College. She currently lives with her partner and daughter in Montpelier, Vermont.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Hardcover Edition

Visitors from the Other Side

The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea

January 29, 1908

The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.

It was the spring before Papa sent Auntie away—before we lost my brother, Jacob. My sister, Constance, had married the fall before and moved to Graniteville.

I was up exploring in the woods, near the Devil’s Hand, where Papa had forbidden us to play. The trees were leafing out, making a lush green canopy overhead. The sun had warmed the soil, giving the damp woods a rich, loamy smell. Here and there beneath the beech, sugar maple, and birch trees were spring flowers: trilliums, trout lilies, and my favorite, jack-in-the-pulpit, a funny little flower with a secret: if you lift the striped hood, you’ll find the preacher underneath. Auntie had shown me this, and taught me that you could dig up the tubers and cook them like turnips. I had just found one and was pulling back the hood, looking for the tiny figure underneath, when I heard footsteps, slow and steady, moving my way. Heavy feet dragging through the dry leaves, stumbling on roots. I wanted to run, but froze with panic, having squatted down low behind a rock just as a figure moved into the clearing.

I recognized her at once—Hester Jameson.

She’d died two weeks before from typhoid fever. I had attended her funeral with Papa and Jacob, seen her laid to rest in the cemetery behind the church up by Cranberry Meadow. Everyone from school was there, all in Sunday best.

Hester’s father, Erwin, ran Jameson’s Tack and Feed Shop. He wore a black coat with frayed sleeves, and his nose was red and running. Beside him stood his wife, Cora Jameson, a heavyset woman who had a seamstress shop in town. Mrs. Jameson sobbed into a lace handkerchief, her whole body heaving and trembling.

I had been to funerals before, but never for someone my own age. Usually it was the very old or the very young. I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket, just the right size for a girl like me. I stared at the plain wooden box until I grew dizzy, wondering what it might feel like to be laid out inside. Papa must have noticed, because he took my hand and gave it a squeeze, pulled me a little closer to him.

Reverend Ayers, a young man then, said Hester was with the angels. Our old preacher, Reverend Phelps, was stooped over, half deaf, and none of what he said made any sense—it was all frightening metaphors about sin and salvation. But when Reverend Ayers with his sparkling blue eyes spoke, it felt as if he said each word right to me.

“I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

For the first time, I understood the word of God, because Reverend Ayers spoke it. His voice, all the girls said, could soothe the Devil himself.

A red-winged blackbird cried out conk-a-reee from a nearby hazel bush. He puffed up his red shoulders and sang over and over, as loud as he could, his call almost hypnotic; even Reverend Ayers paused to look.

Mrs. Jameson dropped to her knees, keening. Mr. Jameson tried to pull her up, but did not have the strength.

I stood right beside Papa, clutching his hand, as dirt was shoveled down on the coffin of poor Hester Jameson. Hester had a crooked front tooth, but a beautifully delicate face. She had been the best in our class at arithmetic. Once, for my birthday, she gave me a note with a flower pressed inside. A violet it was, dried out and perfectly preserved. May your day be as special as you are, she’d written in perfect cursive. I tucked it into my Bible, where it stayed for years, until it either disintegrated or fell out, I cannot recall.

Now, two weeks after her very own funeral, Hester’s sleeper caught sight of me there in the woods, crouching behind the rock. I shall never forget the look in her eyes—the frightened half-recognition of someone waking from a horrible dream.

I had heard about sleepers; there was even a game we played in the schoolyard in which one child would be laid out dead in a circle of violets and forget-me-nots. Then someone would lean down and whisper magic words in the dead girl’s ear, and she would rise and chase all the other children. The first one she caught would be the next to die.

I think I may have even played this game once with Hester Jameson.

I had heard whispers, rumors of sleepers called back from the land of the dead by grieving husbands and wives, but was certain they only existed in the stories old women liked to tell each other while they folded laundry or stitched stockings—something to pass the time, and to make any eavesdropping children hurry home before dark.

I had been sure, up until then, that God in his infinite wisdom would not have allowed such an abomination.

Hester and I were not ten feet apart. Her blue dress was filthy and torn, her corn-silk hair in tangles. She gave off the musty smell of damp earth, but there was something else behind it, an acrid, greasy, burnt odor, similar to what you smell when you blow out a tallow candle.

Our eyes met, and I yearned to speak, to say her name, but could only manage a strangled-sounding Hss.

Hester ran off into the woods like a startled rabbit. I stayed frozen, clinging pathetically to my rock like a bit of lichen.

From down the path leading to the Devil’s Hand came another figure, running, calling Hester’s name.

It was her mother, Cora Jameson.

She stopped when she saw me, face flushed and frantic. She was breathing hard and had scratches on her face and arms, pieces of dry leaves and twigs tangled in her hair.

“Tell no one,” she said.

“But why?” I asked, stepping out from behind the rock.

She looked right at me—through me, almost, as if I were a pane of dirty window glass. “Someday, Sara,” she said, “maybe you’ll love someone enough to understand.”

Then she ran off into the woods, following her daughter.

I told Auntie about it later.

“Is it really possible?” I asked. “To bring someone back like that?”

We were down by the river, picking fiddleheads, filling Auntie’s basket with the curled fern tops, as we did each spring. Then we’d bring them home and make a creamy soup stuffed full of wild greens and herbs that Auntie had gathered along the way. We were also there to check the traps—Auntie had caught a beaver just two days before and was hoping for another. Beaver pelts were a rarity and brought a high price. They were once nearly as common as squirrels’, Auntie said, but trappers had taken all except a handful.

Buckshot was with us, nosing the ground, ears attentive to every little sound. I never knew if he was all wolf, or only part. Auntie had found him as a pup, when he’d fallen into one of her pit traps after being all shot up by someone. She’d carried him home, pulled the buckshot pellets out of him, stitched him up, and nursed him back to health. He’d been by her side ever since.

“He was lucky you found him,” I said after hearing the story.

“Luck had nothing to do with it,” Auntie told me. “He and I were meant for one another.”

I never saw such devotion in a dog—or any animal, for that matter. His wounds had healed, but the buckshot left him blind in his right eye, which was milky white. His ghost eye, Auntie called it.

“He came so close to death, he’s got one eye back there still,” she explained. I loved Buckshot, but I hated that milky-white moon that seemed to see everything and nothing all at once.

Auntie was not related to me by blood, but she cared for me, raised me after my own mother died giving birth to me. I had no memory of my mother—the only proofs of her existence were my parents’ wedding photograph, the quilt she’d sewn that I slept under every night, and the stories my older brother and sister told.

My brother claimed I had my mother’s laugh. My sister said that my mother had been the best dancer in the county, that she was the envy of all the other girls.

Auntie’s people came from up north, in Quebec. Her father had been a trapper; her mother, an Indian woman. Auntie carried a hunting knife, and wore a long deerskin coat decorated with bright beads and porcupine quills. She spoke French, and sang songs in a language I never did recognize. She wore a ring carved from yellowed bone on her right pointer finger.

“What does it say?” I asked once, touching the strange letters and symbols on its surface.

“That life is a circle,” she answered.

People in town were frightened of Auntie, but their fear did not keep them away from her door. They followed the well-worn path to her cabin in the woods out behind the Devil’s Hand, carrying coins, honey, whiskey—whatever they had to trade for her remedies. Auntie had drops for colic, tea for fever, even a little blue bottle that she swore contained a potion so powerful that with one drop the object of your heart’s desire would be yours. I knew better than to doubt her.

There were other things I knew about Auntie, too. I’d seen her sneak out of Papa’s bedroom in the early morning, heard the sounds that came from behind his locked door when she visited him there.

I also knew better than to cross her. She had a fiery temper and little patience with people who did not see things her way. If people refused to pay her for her services, she’d call on them, sprinkle their homes with black powder pulled from one of her leather pouches, and speak a strange incantation. Terrible things would befall those families from then on: sicknesses, fires, crop losses, even death.

I tossed a handful of dark-green fiddleheads into the basket.

“Tell me, Auntie, please,” I begged, “can the dead come back?”

Auntie looked at me a long time, head cocked to the side, her small, dark eyes fixed on mine.

“Yes,” she told me at last. “There is a way. Few know of it, but those who do, pass it down to their children. Because you are the closest I will ever come to a child of my own, the secret will go to you. I will write it all down, everything I know about sleepers. I will fold up the papers, put them in an envelope, and seal it with wax. You will hide it away, and one day, when you are ready, you will open it up.”

“How will I know I am ready?” I asked.

She smiled, showing her small teeth, pointed like a fox’s and stained brown from tobacco. “You will know.”

I am writing these words in secret, hidden under covers. Martin and Lucius believe I am sleeping. I hear them downstairs, drinking coffee and discussing my prognosis. (Not good, I’m afraid.)

I have been going back in my mind, thinking over how all of this began, piecing things together the way one might sew a quilt. But, oh, what a hideous and twisted quilt mine would be!

“Gertie,” I hear Martin say above the clink of a spoon stirring coffee in his favorite tin mug. I imagine the furrow of his brow, the deep worry lines there; how sad his face must be after he spoke her name.

I hold my breath and listen hard.

“Sometimes a tragedy breaks a person,” Lucius says. “Sometimes they will never be whole again.”

If I close my eyes even now, I can still see my Gertie’s face, feel her sugary breath on my cheek. I can so vividly recall our last morning together, hear her saying, “If snow melts down to water, does it still remember being snow?”

Martin

January 12, 1908

“Wake up, Martin.” A soft whisper, a flutter against his cheek. “It’s time.”

Martin opened his eyes, leaving the dream of a woman with long dark hair. She’d been telling him something. Something important, something he was not supposed to forget.

He turned over in bed. He was alone, Sara’s side of the bed cold. He sat up, listening carefully. Voices, soft giggles across the hall, from behind Gertie’s bedroom door.

Had Sara spent the whole night in with Gertie again? Surely it couldn’t be good for the girl, to smother her like that. Sometimes he worried that Sara’s attachment to Gertie simply wasn’t . . . healthy. Just last week, Sara had kept Gertie home from school for three straight days, and for those three days Sara doted on her—plaiting her hair, making her a new dress, baking her cookies, playing hide-and-seek. Sara’s niece, Amelia, offered to take Gertie for the weekend, and Sara had made excuses—she gets homesick so easily, she’s so frail—but Martin understood that it was Sara who could not bear to be without Gertie. Sara never seemed whole unless Gertie was by her side.

He pushed the worried thoughts away. Better to focus on the problems he understood and could do something about.

The house was cold, the fire out.

He peeled back the covers, threw his legs over the side of the bed, and pulled on his pants. His bad foot hung there like a hoof till he shoved it into the special boot fashioned for him by the cobbler in Montpelier. The soles were worn through, and he’d stuffed the bottoms of both boots with dry grass and cattail fluff, all layered over scraps of leather, in a futile attempt to keep the dampness out. There was no money for new custom-made boots now.

Blight had ruined most of last fall’s potato crop, and they relied on the money they got from selling the potatoes to the starch factory to get through the winter. It was only January, and the root cellar was nearly bare: a few spongy potatoes and carrots, some Hubbard squash, half a dozen jars of string beans and tomatoes Sara had put up last summer, a little salt pork from the hog they’d butchered in November (they’d traded most of the meat for dry goods at the general store). Martin would have to get a deer soon if they were going to have enough to eat. Sara had a talent for stretching what little food they had, for making milk gravy and biscuits with a bit of salt pork into a meal, but she couldn’t create something from nothing.

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Reading Group Guide

1. At the heart of the novel is the longing to be reunited with a loved one who has died. How would you respond to this possibility, even if you could only see your beloved for one week? What risks would you take to take to experience such a reunion?

2. What was it like to read Sara’s diary, alternating with scenes from other time periods? Did Sara’s words change your vision of the spirit world? Did her bond with Gertie remind you of your own experience with a mother’s love?

3. When Alice and her family inhabit Sara’s house and her land, how does that environment transform them? Do you believe that the history of a locale can influence your present-day experiences there?

4. Ruthie and Fawn have been raised to question authority and to live a non-materialistic life. What benefits and challenges does their upbringing give them when their mother goes missing? Ultimately, what did Alice try to teach her daughters about becoming fulfilled women?

5. Reread the excerpt from Amelia’s introduction on the book’s first page. How do Amelia and the other townspeople react to their legacies? Why did Reverend Ayers feel so threatened by Auntie?

6. Martin cherishes Sara and continually strives to please her. Does she love him in equal measure, or does her ancestry make it too difficult for an outsider to fully share a life with her?

7. How was Sara affected by her history with her siblings, Constance and Jacob? Why did their father easily become dependent on Auntie, while Sara’s mother didn’t trust her?

8. Did Tom and Bridget O’Rourke have ethical motivations? Did Candace? How do the revelations about them affect Ruthie’s sense of self?

9. How did you react to Gertie’s hunger? What is its significance to the maternal women who must care for her?

10. Discuss Katherine and Gary’s love for each other. How does their marriage compare to the others presented in the book? How do Katherine’s art and Gary’s photography give them a unique perspective on life and memory? What does their story indicate about whether a sleeper should be awakened?

11. Consider the rules for waking a sleeper. What do the words and the ingredients represent in terms of the cycles of life and the nature of death?

12. What were your theories about the many unsolved deaths in West Hall? Did your instincts prove to be correct when the truth about the Devil’s Hand was revealed?

13. In The Winter People and previous novels by Jennifer McMahon that you have enjoyed, how is the author able to make surreal situations seem highly realistic? What role do fear and courage play in each of her books? 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2014

    What a great book this was to read around Halloween! When I sta

    What a great book this was to read around Halloween! When I started this novel, I was also reading three other books at the same time, but dropped them to focus on this one because I couldn't wait to see what would happen. A small New England town during winter, disappearances, murders, and 'sleepers' - what a perfect setup for a captivating read.

    I'm not giving anything away when I say the 'sleepers' in this story brought to mind Stephen King's Pet Sematary - the sleepers are mentioned on the first page by Sara in her diary. This is the first book I've read in quite some time where the story is told primarily in varying female perspectives. The reader is taken back to the early 1900's in Sara's point of view and then to present day from Ruthie and Kathleen's perspectives. Sara's husband also gets a couple of chapters of his own, but those just helped me understand Sara even more. It became evident early on there was a connection between most of the characters in this story and the mystery of that is what kept me turning the pages.

    I enjoyed all the characters in this book, even if I doubted their sanity and innocence at times. As a mother, I could understand Sara's grief, her inability to let go of her child, and the boundaries she crossed to keep that from happening.

    This was a wonderful blend of thriller, mystery, and horror genres - not the blood and gore type, more of the goosebumps-on-your-arms, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-raising, don't-look-over-your-shoulder kind. I haven't read anything by this author before and, looking at some other reviews, this is apparently a different path for her, but I enjoyed the journey.

    This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 28, 2014

    Awesome!!!

    I hate when people write reviews and spoil the whole book-so the only thing I will say about this book is......it is an awesome read.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2014

    Spooky

    This is the first book i have read by her and could not put it down. Did remind me a bit of pet cemetery, only better. When I was reading last night, I even "let" my kids sleep in my bed just to have someone else in the room:)

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    3.5/5 It seems to be things that go bump in the night week for

    3.5/5 It seems to be things that go bump in the night week for me! Jennifer McMahon's latest book is The Winter People.

    I love the dedication.....

    " For Zeila. 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."

    And that's exactly what happens. Ruthie and Fawn live with their mother Alice in West Hall, Vermont on a hardscrabble farm near a rocky ridge known as The Devil's Hand. When Alice disappears without a trace, the girls search the house for clues - and come upon a diary hidden under the floorboards. The diary is from 1908 and belonged to Sara, a former resident of the house. What Ruthie reads seems impossible. But again, there have always been rumours and legends about Devil's Hand. And people do go missing.....

    McMahon weaves her story through past and present as the girls search for their mother and we catch up by reading Sara's diary from 1908.

    "She's one of the winter people. The people who are stuck between here and there, waiting. It reminds me of winter, how everything is all pale and cold and full of nothing, and all you can do is wait for sparing."

    I really enjoyed the build up of the story and found it hard to put down - I wanted to know what had happened and what was going to happen. But I found one of the final characters involved in the ending overdone and the conclusion was a little too predictable and somewhat familiar. (Think Pet Semetary) For me, this somewhat detracted from what had been a good horror/ghost story up until then. Of the two narratives, I preferred Sara's from 1908. It was scarier and more atmospheric.

    Still, The Winter People kept me turning pages on a dark winter night. Entertaining, but not my favourite McMahon book. (Island of Lost Girls is my fave.)

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    wonderful book

    Extremely creepy, intricate and will keep you glued til the last page. Definition of a pageturner. If you like ghosts and mysteries all layered in one another, this book is ideal for you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2014

    It's been so long since I've had the pleasure of reading a page-

    It's been so long since I've had the pleasure of reading a page-turning Gothic novel.  Daphne DuMaurier was one of my very favorites, Anne Rice is an awesome writer in this vein, but lately she has gone into new territory that doesn't hold my interest.  This book sounds like it will appeal  to lovers of dark and spooky nights.


    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Not for everyone.

    This is a book for people who enjoy the current shows about people returning from the dead. It is a good suspense story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    Once again I have preordered a nook book and the date comes and

    Once again I have preordered a nook book and the date comes and goes and I am unable to read the book. Way to suck nook, way to suck.

    3 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Page turner!

    McMahon delivers with a 100+ year old child disappearance & murder case, ancient ritual and unholy ground. Almost stands as a backstory to King's, Pet Semetery & "sour ground". Couldn't put it down!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    An

    I really love this author having read all of her books but this one was disappointing. Let me correct myself...it was very good until the end. Then it became something typical of the times we live in right now and the movies and tv programs which feature a particular venue. Ido not want to give the end away so i am vague intentionally. Her other books are better. Start with those. The writing is good...characters good...ending seems like she wasnt sure where to take this.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    My first by Jennifer McMahon, but it won't be my last.  One of

    My first by Jennifer McMahon, but it won't be my last. 

    One of the best things about writing reviews for book and blogging is that you come across wonderful new authors that you have not read before. Established author Jennifer McMahon is a perfect example. Although The Winter People is her 7th novel, it is my first by here and I am so excited to find a new author to read. 




    One day 19-year-old Ruthie awakens to find her mother has disappeared. Ruthie lives in an old farmhouse in West Hall, Vermont with her mother Alice and her sister Fawn. The same farmhouse where Sarah Harrison Shea lived in the early 1900s with her husband and daughter Gertie. The same farmhouse where Sarah was found dead just weeks after Gertie is killed in a tragic way. 




    The book begins in 1908 when Sarah sees her first "sleeper" (a person who has died and is temporarily brought back to life). It continues through her diary which tells about her life, Gertie's death, and the aftermath. Alternate chapters tell the story of Ruthie and her sister, and the search for their missing mother. Telling the stories by alternating them can be confusing at times, but it this case Jennifer McMahon does an excellent job of weaving the two stories together seamlessly. The excellent narrative hooked me from the beginning and my curiosity to see what would happen next kept me going. 




    Although it was not apparent how the two stories connected in the beginning, this was not a problem at all. Each story was compelling and filled with just the right amount of suspense. In addition, the characters in the story were easy for me to become invested in, which also pulled me in quickly. In addition to the main characters, there were several other characters who caught my interest, including Sarah's magical "Auntie" and the wife of a photographer who disappeared while researching Sarah's life. Add to all this the inclusion of the ghostly as well as other supernatural elements that took the story to a seriously creepy level. You know, the feeling you get when someone tells a really great ghost story after dark in the summer. It certainly made me shiver several times, and not just because the story took place during a snow storm. 




    As I said above, this is the first of Jennifer McMahon's books that I have read. What I didn't say is that I have several others that I have never gotten a chance to read. That will be remedied soon. If you have never read anything by Jennifer McMahon, I recommend that you seek out her work, and The Winter People is a great place to start. I am anticipating that the rest of her books are filled with the same excellent narrative, characters, and other elements as this one. 




    Thanks to Doubleday Publishing for making the e-ARC available through Edelweiss for my review.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2014

    As paranormal fiction and horror are two of my favorite genres,

    As paranormal fiction and horror are two of my favorite genres, I found The Winter People absolutely captivating. Only when her mother disappears and the old house starts giving up its secrets, does Ruthie realize that she is living on a cursed piece of land where a gruesome family saga played itself out about a century ago. Soon those who have lost loved ones, as well as those who want to become rich by selling the Harrison family secret, converge on Ruthie and her little sister. 

    Paranormal phenomena like vampires and werewolves don't scare me at all. Ghosts and things involving the dead rising, however, are the kind of tales that will make me hesitate to switch the light off at night. From pale things seen in the woods and the inexplicable smell of ozone, to mysterious disappearances and the feeling of being watched, this book is full of that kind of thrilling, thoroughly scary material. The frightening tales and legends woven round these incidents by the residents of the town of West Hall, just add to this incredible mystery.

    As the story is written from different points of view, it is difficult to truly identify with one character in particular. Although Ruthie's part in the story starts off with her being a rather rebellious teenager who is extremely unhappy with living in a small town, she soon becomes more responsible when her mother disappears and she is left with the responsibility of her sick little sister, Fawn. That said little sister is rather secretive, and a bit weird, doesn't help either. 

    Other characters like the grieving Katherine who is looking for clues about her dead husband's last few hours and the mean, extremely greedy, trigger-happy Candace, are fleshed out and realistic. 

    The characters from the historic part of the story, however, were crafted even more believably. In the end I truly didn't know whether the mystical Auntie, Sarah Harrison Shea, her rather weak husband, or something far more evil were responsible for the death of the little girl, Gertie.

    The author's brilliant use of the Vermont woods in winter, a little bone ring, a diary and a mysterious map, augment the spooky atmosphere of this book.

    I highly recommend The Winter People to all who love a good, thrilling paranormal tale with more than a bit of horror. (Ellen Fritz)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    Creepy. Little slow, but enjoyable

    I didn't realize it'd be as creepy as it was. I enjoyed it, but it was a little too slow for my taste. Maybe I was expecting something different. I didn't hate it, but didn't love it.

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  • Posted September 23, 2014

    I think maybe I'm jaded. (Probably jaded.) I just . . . I di

    I think maybe I'm jaded. (Probably jaded.)




    I just . . . I didn't find the book scary. Maybe a tad creepy, but nothing so much beyond that. This book is marketed, at least by those on Goodreads, as a "horror" novel but I didn't view it as such. I thought of it more as a mystery, with a dash of spookyness (yes, that's a word).




    The novel revolves around Visitors from the Other Side: The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea, a novel put together by her niece through diary pages she had found hidden around Sara's house after her murder in 1908. Sara is somewhat of a legend around the small Vermont town, both for the things she wrote about and the fact that people saw her after her death.




    The narration of The Winter People is told from multiple perspectives: those in 1908 and those in present day. The multiple voices/time periods may sound confusing, but Jennifer seamlessly flows from one to the other while keeping her readers on their toes. While it sometimes leads to a bit of confusion as to what is going on, that confusion keeps you reading in order to get your questions answered. You need to know why these things are happening and what is going to happen to these characters.




    The setting is perfect. A small town in Vermont, a farm house in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods. I get chills just thinking about it. I found Sara's diary entries to be fascinating, sometimes more so than the present day stories, and I wanted to know more about her.




    Overall, I did enjoy The Winter People, but I was expecting something more scary. More of an up all night and afraid to look at my closet door type book. Jennifer's writing is superb and she keeps you wrapped up in the story. Her descriptions are spot on and engrossing, leading you uneasy feelings and a tension that doesn't allow you to relax until you've finished.

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  • Posted August 16, 2014

    Spooky, but what is it with the current style of going back and

    Spooky, but what is it with the current style of going back and forth in time.  Seems every book I read lately is written this way.  Gets confusing keeping characters straight.  About 2/3 of the way through I was tempted to move on to something  else...it just went on much too long.  Seemed very much like an old horror movie from the 60's.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    I liked this book a lot up (had to force myself to put it down s

    I liked this book a lot up (had to force myself to put it down so I could go to bed) until the last 25 pages or so.  I felt that the ending was weak and the explanation of the events in the book were not well tied- almost rushed and unbelievable. Still, despite the letdown, I'm glad I read it and will look into other books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Great read!

    Recently learned about Jennifer Mcmahon and this was the first book I read by her and was instantly hooked on this book, her way with words and her writing style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2014

    Decent

    The book definately kept my interest, but I wound still consider it as mediocre. I doubt I will give it much thought now that Ive finished reading it. I wouldnt recomend it to friends or anything. Heart shaped box by Joe Hill is horror at its finest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    A fun book to read.

    This was the first book I've read by this author. I don't read many horror stories but I'm glad I read this one...I'll read another by her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Pet Cemetery rip off

    This is creepy but really too close to King's novel to give her credit. I do like the past and present shufts though.

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