The Winter People

The Winter People

by Jennifer McMahon
4.0 31


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The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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

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.
Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search 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 into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Boston Globe Best Book of the Year  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385538497
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/11/2014
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About 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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The Winter People 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
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.
frosty7530 More than 1 year ago
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.
Twink More than 1 year ago
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.)
Sandy5 6 months ago
4.5 stars What an intriguing and mysterious adventure I found myself on, when I checked this audio out. Two stories that I found myself wrapped up in with characters who were dedicated to their responsibility. The novel begins with Sara’s story in 1908, when Sara writes about her life with her husband and her daughter Gertie. It’s written in diary format, and as Sara words speak to you, there is pain of lost babies, hard times on the homestead and her life growing up. Sara is head over heels in love with young Gertie and when an incident leaves Gertie dead, Sara grieves terribly. Remembering a spell that she was taught when she was younger, she uses that spell on Gertie. I was nervous as I listened to this audio, afraid of what Sara was producing. Gertie, the child which consumed Sara, her dead child, she has listened once again to her mother and Sara’s spell has worked. She has become a Sleeper. What has Sara done? The second story takes place in the current time period. A mother and her two daughters are now living in Sara’s home. Everything is fine until one day when the mother vanishes without a clue. The oldest daughter begins to inquire about her mother’s absence while the youngest daughter worries and clutches her doll. They cannot find anything about where their mother has gone to. Their traditional game of hide-n-seek begins to give the girls some unusual bits and pieces about the house that they were not aware of and they begin to wonder if these are not clues about their mother’s disappearance. They’re a bright duo and they begin to investigate these clues, calling upon others to help them. I enjoyed how the two stories begin to come together, the voices of both stories bringing the strange and unnatural elements together. Sara is committed to her Gertie and the girls are committed to bringing their mother back. I really enjoyed this novel, a few times it got redundant and I wanted more story or something to occur but those times were few. I recommend this title, it’s an interesting look into what love is and the supernatural.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Great twist on the typical horror story.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Really good book. Kept me guessing till the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully eerie! Suspenseful, will have you looking over your shoulder!There is a sense of unease that the author creates since page one....a trepidation that keeps its momentum until the last page! I have not read a book this scary since Stephen King's ghost story, " Bag of Bones."
bayareagirl More than 1 year ago
best book of the year !? -- C'mon Globe! interesting idea strung out through pages of banal writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bizarre! Apparently, I'm not on the same page as the rest of the reviewers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was well written, clever & spooky. Plot was well developed & paced.
Snickerdoodle00 More than 1 year ago
This was the first book by Jennifer McMahon that read and i did the mistake of reading it at night. Let me just say that it creeped me out to the max. This was such an amazing read.Loved the way that the author kept switching between time frames going back and fourth until the conclusion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read several of McMahon's novel and found all to be very interesting. This is the first one I have read tbat would really say has a unique and creative plotline. I would re ommend it, but only tpeople who like a bit of a psychological horror story
WhatsBeyondForks More than 1 year ago
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon is a dark mystery with layers. I thought I had it figured out, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again, and back again. There are clues, but then something else happens that distracted me from the clues. The story is carried out through generations and is told through multiple point of views in multiple time periods. That sounds like it would be confusing right? But, it's not. It's well told and easy to follow. I felt pulled into the lives of the characters. I even felt chills a time or two, which never happens when I read. This is the first book I've read by this author, but now I have to check out more of her books. The ARC of The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Really creepy but amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I don't want to give away too much of the story, I will just say that I was highly disappointed. I think this is the third book I've read of hers & by far the worst. I read all of these reviews about it being scary, etc., but I felt none of it. Even though it's been years since I read her Promise Not to Tell, I remember feeling frightened & loving that one. With The Winter People, I kept waiting for it to get interesting, but by the end, I just wanted to hurry up & finish it. I have to say, the ending was probably the most disappointing.
KimHeniadis More than 1 year ago
This story was excellent. Jennifer McMahon magically wove together the story line from 1908 and present day. And while technically you could say this is a zombie book, Gertie does come back from the dead, it doesn’t have the feel of a typical zombie story. It’s more of a mystery with a touch of a ghost story and a bit of horror combined. I don’t want to go deeply into the plot because there would be spoilers. That was the joy of reading the book, figuring out the mystery along with the characters of present day. It also has the reader thinking, at first, that it’s not possible to bring back the dead. But as you go further into the story, you begin to wonder if it could happen. There are so many unexplained things on this planet, and people have long since believed in the supernatural, so just maybe. The few horror parts were well written, and I could easily picture the scenes. The one in particular that made me a bit squeamish was how they found Sara dead. There’s a couple unanswered questions that will leave the reader thinking about the book even after they have finished it. The one that I keep wondering about is Fawn, Ruthie’s sister, and her doll. Was the doll really talking to Fawn, since she seemed to know things that a child wouldn’t have known. Or was Fawn a bit of a psychic, and could she see into the future. How the book ended left it open for another book, and I would definitely read it. Also with Fawn possibly being psychic, it would compliment Ruthie very nicely if there were to be another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a different, creepy, & well written book. I didn't care for the multiple point-of -view perspectives... however, overall, it was a good horror-fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written from a few point of views which I usually don't like, but this was written where it is easily followed. Very intense and a great thriller!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me going, no dull spots
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spooky and delicious. Loved it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick read. The story starts out well, with lots of intriguing detail and weird, creepy atmosphere. I wanted to find out what happened to the characters, which kept me reading after the "Oh come on!" moments towards the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good quick read. Excellent story. Scary (make sure your closet is closed before you get in bed to read this!