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review 2019-06-10 20:16
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

I’m going to say this right up front even though I know people will yell at me for it but that is nothing new. I read this book for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Community Readalong while I was doing a re-listen of Pet Sematary and yes, I now realize that this was a very dumb idea indeed and I do NOT recommend doing so to any of you because both books have some very similar themes. “Sometimes, dead is bettah" and that’s all I’ll say about that. I know it’s never a good idea to compare one writers work to another but in this case it was impossible not to do so as I was reading them both at the same time and it is 100% my own damn fault. 

The King book will destroy you emotionally. It does grief so exquisitely that it breaks your heart as if the grief were your own. It takes its time making you feel it all deep within every one of your bones and it remains hyper focused on fleshing out all of the awful/terrible/heartbreaking feelings as Louis Creed is faced down with nothing but terrible choices. The Winter People doesn’t give itself enough time to ponder the grief of the situations its characters face because it throws in so much other. Much of the other was unnecessary to the core story, if you ask me, and I felt that it took away from the compelling storyline set in the past. But this is just my opinion, of course, and you are getting what you paid for here. I know people love this book. Please don’t come at me because I didn’t fall madly in love. I wanted to but sometimes love is elusive.

This is a haunting story of grief and emotional turmoil and there is also a mystery or two or three. There is a timeline based in 1908 and a timeline set in the current day. As I said up there somewhere, my favorite timeline was the one set in the past. I had so many questions and felt an amazing sense of time and place and I needed to know all the answers. It was atmospheric and eerie as hell and gripped me right away. Honestly, I never wanted to leave 1908. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about the story or the characters in the present day. They weren’t nearly as compelling or interesting and they only seemed to add confusion to the story. Or maybe it’s just my faulty brain.

At any rate, this book is a difficult one to review which is why I’ve put it off for several weeks now. The writing in the beginning was five star material but somewhere after the first quarter things got too bogged down and it began to hurt my brain. There is a big reveal in the end that simply didn’t ring true to me because one character wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to buy into the situation – and that’s all I can say about that. There’s also another decision made near the end that left me . . . frustrated. Again, that one comes down to characterization. Had the plot not been quite so over-stuffed there may have been more space to explore the characters and understand some of their decisions. 

I can say this book kept me guessing and it kept me reading and the early parts were spectacular so I’m giving it a 3 for those reasons. 

I will leave you with my favorite creepy quote:

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket. Just the right size for a girl like me.”

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review 2019-01-10 17:04
Only Enjoyed One Time Period
The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

Sigh. Well this was an okay story, I only enjoyed the past time period in the book (the Sarah and Martin sections) and didn't like the present at all except for Ruth. The book fell down at the end too and I honestly didn't find this too scary.

 

"The Winter People" follows four people (Martin, Sara, Ruthie, and Katherine) in different time periods. Martin and Katherine's narratives are from the 1908 and Ruthie and Katherine are from the present day. The book focuses on all of their connections to a farm house in Vermont that is located near the so-called Devil's Hand. Why people would live near anything with the word devil in it is beyond me. 

 

As often with different narratives in one book, there were only two that I liked in this one. Martin and Sara's. We get to see how hard their lives are back in the early 1900s and how Martin is scared that he is losing Sara after the death of their daughter. Sara's story takes a while to get going. I was bored through the first 20 percent of the book. Sara's narrative is pretty thin until she starts recounting her childhood and we see what losing her child, Gertie, is doing to her. Sara also weaves in talk of her Auntie (not her real aunt) who ended up raising her and providing food and love to her, her brother and sister, and her father. Sara hints at something terrible happening, but we don't find out until the very end of the book. I have to say that the reveal was a horrible letdown though. I had some thoughts on Auntie, but can't get into it without spoiling.

 

Ruthie's narrative is boring, but gets stronger as she realizes her mother is missing and she needs to be strong for her little sister Fawn. Katherine's narrative doesn't work and I also thought she was an idiot by the time the book ended. 

 

McMahon decides to throw in a ridiculous character that really doesn't move things forward. I am just baffled she was included since there was so much already happening in this story. 

 

The flow was up and down, jumping from person to person didn't really work. I think if we had the straight telling of Martin/Sara or at least Sara's told in chronological order it would have been a stronger book. Instead we had too much going on and not enough explanations until the very end. 

 

The town of West Hall, Verrmont felt sparse, and most of the action was focused on the farmhouse. It made an interesting location, though I wish that it had been showcased a bit more. Make it more like the Overlook in "The Shining" and explain things a lot better. I am still confused on what made a winter person (it makes very little sense until you get to the end and even then I went, um okay...). 

 

The ending was interesting. You get to see what path Ruth chooses that I had some issues with. Especially when we get Sara's narrative and we see what happened to her. And Katherine was a fool times infinity. 

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text 2019-01-10 03:41
Reading progress update: I've read 30%.
The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

This is down right creepy, well done sneak up slowly and leave you chilled creepy :D I like it. Great narrator too 

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text 2019-01-09 23:33
Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

I’m super confused. There’s at least six separate narratives going. 

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review 2017-08-01 14:04
The Winter People - audio
The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

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.

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