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The Winter People Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 2016
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*Starred Review* After a night of partying, 19-year-old Ruthie awakens to a world of impossibilities: her mother, an off-the-grid hippie who rarely leaves their Vermont farm, is missing, and Ruthie is left to care for her young sister. Ruthie desperately searches their old farmhouse for clues and uncovers a hidden compartment in her mother’s room filled with frightening artifacts: a pair of strangers’ wallets, a loaded gun, and a book entitled Visitors from the Other Side: The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea. The diary reveals a 100-year-old mystery lending credence to the campfire tales about their farm, the nearby Devils’ Hand rock formation, locals who have gone missing, and her mother’s warnings that bad things happen in their woods. Ruthie begins tracking her mother with the information in the wallets and soon finds links between the diary’s horrors and her mother’s disappearance. McMahon has developed a subgenre of psychological mysteries that pit female characters with humanizing strengths and vulnerabilities against old secrets posing present dangers, forcing them to confront mystery and legend in creepily seductive settings. This mystery-horror crossover is haunting, evocative, and horrifically beautiful, a triumph that shares good literary company with Karen Novak’s Five Mile House (2000), Tananarive Due’s The Good House (2003), Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (2006), and Robert McCammon’s Speaks the Nightbird (2007). --Christine Tran --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
"One of the year’s most chilling novels. She melds the mystery genre with the supernatural for a psychological thriller that is as scary as it is enthralling." —The Miami Herald
“Jennifer McMahon is a writer of exceptional talent, and The Winter People is a hypnotic, gripping and deeply moving thriller. With her beautifully drawn characters and complex, layered, and suspenseful story, McMahon has woven a dream from which I didn't want to wake—and couldn't have even if I wanted to.” —Lisa Unger, author of In the Blood
"Crisp, mysterious and scary.... The Winter People has a consistently eerie atmosphere, and some of its darker supernatural flights are reminiscent of Stephen King." —USA Today
“I don't believe in ghosts. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I read The Winter People. I also don't need to sleep with the lights on. I told myself that, too. But I was whistling past a graveyard—or, in this case—past a Vermont landscape that is authentic and recognizable and still altogether chilling. The Winter People is terrifying—everything you could want in a classic ghost story.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Light in the Ruins
"A fascinatingly creepy tale. The historical foundation and the modern mystery blend together seamlessly, making the reader eager to find out the secrets Sara Harrison Shea might have known, while the exploration of mother-daughter love and loss makes both Sara's and Ruthie's narratives irresistible. 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
"A ghost story that is ... all too human.... A hauntingly beautiful read." --Oprah.com
“In an edge-of-your-seat scary ghost story, Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People yanks you from one page to the next by expertly weaving the past and present. I will never look at the woods behind my home in the same way again!” —Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence
“A deliciously terrifying glimpse into a ghostly world that will haunt you long after you’ve finished the last page. Jennifer McMahon knows how to conjure your darkest fears and nightmares, while entertaining you with a clever, twisty plot that winds around and around, pulling you deep into the forbidden, secret world of The Winter People.” —Chevy Stevens, author of Always Watching
“This is not a book that will sit unread on anyone’s bedside table for very long. Open the first few pages and you are swept into a swift, dark current of unfolding events that will hold you enthralled. Much more than a spooky mystery of murder and mayhem, 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
Top customer reviews
Am I unhappy that I read the book....no, I'm not. It was a real page turner and I enjoyed becoming engrossed in a story in that way, however, I do feel a bit let down by the unbelievable nature of the explanations given by one of the characters at the end of the book. Do I think that it's worth your time....I think you should be the judge of that. The suspence, the plot twists and turns, the unexpected and horrifying might just make it worth it to you, too.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of thriller books. In fact, it was so well written, I could actually imagine how a movie based on this would look, blending the generations of issues into one finale.
They do, and in this haunting, first-rate, ghost thriller, McMahon picks up the classical tools of the genre and combines them in a wholly new and unexpected way. McMahon wastes no time getting down to business. The suspense starts building on page one. By the middle of the book, it was nearly 2am, and several cups of coffee later, I felt like an overwound alarm clock. Just one more shock, one more revelation, and all my springs would come shooting out of my back, leaving me white-faced and unable to move. Yet even where most authors begin to "wind down the clock" McMahon pulls us mercilessly forward. Finding the truth of the book becomes as important as finding out out the secret contained in the diary of Sara Harrison Shea, the central character whose Aunt (referred to by many as "La Sorciere") practices witchcraft that is known all over the area for its ability to cure and ease pain. But she also can practice the darkest witchcraft of all, and the secret to this spell is one that many lose their lives to protect, and some, to destroy.
I write this review after having turned the final page only a few minutes ago (it's 4 am now). The wind is humming its melancholy song as it rides over the corners of the house, the pines are swaying in that way that almost always presages a power outage, and I'm the only one awake. Well, there was that one moment when I shrieked so loudly my husband startled out of a deep slumber ready to call 911, but all is quiet now. I wonder, though, if I will ever be able to hear the sound of the cats scraping the closet door, or the racoons kicking up the leaves on the patio, without thinking about whether "a sleeper" has come to call.
The best literature is the kind that you find yourself forced to live with, perhaps even live "through", well after you've finished the book. This is especially true of the most haunting examples of Ms.. McMahon's chosen genre -- examples are too numerous to discuss here. What's important to note, however, is that McMahon is not the latest in a series. She has blazed her own trail, deftly handling past and present in such a way that our suspense is constantly on the upswing, almost to the last page. Yet she is sensitive to the frustration that builds with suspense, so she leads us fearful and trembling readers to the next clue, the next revelation, just at the right moment to keep us keen for the ending. And oh, what an ending!
I can't help but give this book my highest recommendation. I wouldn't dare do less. Who knows what other witchcraft McMahon has up her sleeves. Hee-hee. I can't wait to find out.
The ONE turnoff I have about her writing is that when any of her characters become the bad guy, even momentarily, they all adopt that same condescending comic-book-villain tone, for example: "Let's see what happens if we _____, shall we? Why don't we ____? Oh, look what we found, [ironic use of pet name]..." It's like they just become cliche super villains. But this is a minor offense, and I loved this novel nonetheless, and I will be anxiously reading the rest of hers.
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