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Posted September 7, 2009
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
Posted January 29, 2009
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. :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
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 KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2011
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