Winter Haven

Winter Haven

5.0 4
by Athol Dickson

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Thirteen years after Vera gamble's little brother ran away from their Texas home, his body washes ashore on the remote island of Winter Haven, Maine. Vera goes to claim the corpse and discovers the impossible: her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him. Determined to uncover what happened, she is confronted by unearthly fog, disturbing locals, and stories of


Thirteen years after Vera gamble's little brother ran away from their Texas home, his body washes ashore on the remote island of Winter Haven, Maine. Vera goes to claim the corpse and discovers the impossible: her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him. Determined to uncover what happened, she is confronted by unearthly fog, disturbing locals, and stories of lost colonies and a vengeful witch.

Beyond the forest where no creature dares to live, her only hope is the mysterious owner of a dilapidated mansion on a rocky cliff. But will this solitary man assist her, or is Vera Gamble doomed to disappear forever into yet another winter haven legend?

(Starred Review) "Dickson's engrossing and taut novel pulls readers into the life of Vera and her quest to find out what happened her little brother. Highly recommended..." (Library Journal)

"... A page turning Gothic tale, combining elements of romance, mystery and ghost story, that aspires go beyond John room to explore God's purpose in suffering." (World magazine)

Editorial Reviews

Spartanburg Herald-Journal - Staff Review
Athol Dickson's new novel, RIVER RISING, elevates the tiny, isolated Mississippi bayou town of Pilotsville, La., to the Gethsemane of 1927...a compelling read.

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Meet the Author

Athol Dickson is a novelist, teacher, and independent publisher.His novels transcend description with a literary style that blends magical realism, suspense, and a strong sense of spirituality. Critics have favorably compared his work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor ( The New York Times). One of his novels, River Rising, is an Audie Award winner, and three have won Christy Awards. His most recent novel, The Opposite Of Art, is a mystical story about pride, passion, and murder as a spiritual pursuit. Athol’s next is a “Christy award collection” of his four best selling novels, updated and with new forewords. Each of the novels was a Christy finalist. Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

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Winter Haven 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Siggy Gamble is an autistic, savant teen who disappears, leaving behind an awful wound in his sister, Vera, one that is about to be reopened thirteen years later as she learns his body has been found washed up, dead and forlorn on a Maine island. Apparently, there is much to be be feared by Vera as she has shut out the awful experiences she has whenever she allows herself to think too long or dream about her long-lost brother. But love for her sibling prevails and she leaves behind the comfort of her accountant job in which she can lose herself in predictable numbers in order to forget the huge weight of unexplainable memories, visions and prophetic-style warnings that offer nothing but horrific oblivion. The island's atmosphere in people, topography and attitudes has a distinctly ghostly ambience, one not offering comfort to a grieving Vera. Instead, she find her brother's body has not aged in the thirteen years he's been missing and he is clutching an artifact associated with his childhood love of Vikings and mythological figures, as well as the tag he wore at all times announcing "I am not dangerous." At a bed and breakfast house where Vera stays, she is warned to stay away from the area where her brother's body was found. Indeed, the more she searches for answers the darker the mystery becomes. Vera's father was a faith healer and the only way Siggy could communicate was by way of Bible verses. In the middle of her memories and fearful search for answers about her brother's life and death, Vera struggles as well with her belief and unbelief in a God who called for unquestioning faith yet seemed totally absent in so many ways around her tortured upbringing. She meets Ethan but is unsure whether he is friend or fiend in the haunted atmosphere of this very unfriendly place. Winter Haven, a 2009 Christy Award finalist, is a Gothic tale reminiscent of the Daphne DuMaurier novels this reviewer read so many years ago. Athol Dickson is a master at providing just enough twists and turns in the central conflict and surrounding them with the darkest, direst atmosphere possible to totally engulf the reader into this strange, twisted and yet enlightened world! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 6, 2009
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
Winter Haven starts with intrigue and never lets up until the very end. I found this book particularly fascinating because Vera's lost brother had autism and the author goes into some childhood memories that were very well done. And the dysfunction in Vera's family that she experienced growing up was powerful. What worse thing could happen to a preacher/healer than to have two children that he couldn't heal? Can you imagine the conflict? Needless to say it definitely hurt Vera in permanent ways. Plus the island was downright spooky. I even read some chapters out loud because they were that freaky. Don't read this book at night. Trust me, you'll have trouble sleeping. But the tension was great and the mysterious islanders and those crazy legends will leave you tense until you find out what the deal is with that place. The ending of the story was weird, yet satisfying as it did explain some things. All I can say is this author has a fabulous imagination and understands insanity and dysfunction well. But not everything is in Vera's head. To find out what I mean you'll have to read the book. That's all I'm saying. :)
harstan More than 1 year ago
Siggy was fifteen years old when he left home his sister Vera Gamble blames herself for his disappearance. She believes she suffers from hallucinations, but outgrows them as she got older because she no longer thought of her vanished severely autistic brother who only spoke in biblical quotes. One day while she at work she receives a call that Siggy¿s body washed up on the Maine barrier island Winter Haven.---------- As she approaches the island by boat, the fog that engulfs it gives Winter Haven an eerie appearance. When the constable shows her Siggy¿s body, Vera is shocked as he has not aged at all he still looks like the teen who left home years ago. When she mentions this to the constable, the cop refuses to allow Vera to take the body home. Vera rents a room at a B&B and explores the island. She hears strange thumping noises like an axe splitting wood and sees with her peripheral vision a dark figure who disappears before she can fully focus. In town it rains black stones on her only and she hears hissing sounds that no one else seems to hear. Vera wonders if she is going crazy or is there a logical explanation to the happenings.-------------- WINTER HAVEN is a good old fashion gothic mystery complete with a brooding love interest for Vera even though her landlady warns her against getting involved with him. Vera is a fine character who believes she is ungodly and part crazy. Life on a small island is vividly described especially how the residents thrive on their isolation, which adds to the eerie atmosphere. Fans will enjoy stopping at Winter Haven as long as Athol Dickson guides us.--------- Harriet Klausner