The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

February 10th, 2014 Kimberly Review 74 Comments

10th Feb
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
The Winter People
by Jennifer McMahon
Published by: Random House
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Suspense thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching 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 deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

I was immediately drawn to the synopsis for The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. It shares a tale about a mother and daughter bond, loss, grief and wishes that should never be granted. A farm shrouded with a tragic history, a superstitious rural community, and a mother with secrets all added to this atmospheric tale. Mini-review: A spine-tingling, hair-raising thriller. McMahon held me captive and made me shiver.

The Winter People, shares a mystery that takes place on a small farmhouse in West Hall, Vermont. The journey to unlock the strange disappearance of a young mother named Alice reveals two stories. Those of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found dead behind her farmhouse in 1908 shortly after her daughter Gertie’s tragic death. The second story is present day and takes us into the lives of a recluse mother named Alice, and her two children, Ruthie and Fawn. Alice mysteriously disappears and her daughter, Ruthie begins searching for her. The answers she finds are disturbing and the tale that unfolds offers a suspenseful tale that leaves us deeply entangled in a macabre tale of love, loss, and death.

The Winter People offers a clever tale about the bond between mother and daughter with dark paranormal twists. The author split our time between the present and past. Ruthie and her younger sister Fawn are searching for clues regarding the strange disappearance of their mother. Clues bring questions, and questions have them looking to the surrounding woods, strange disappearances and disturbing journal entries from Sara. The tale unfolded slowly with details surrounding both past and present. We know almost immediately what we are dealing with, and it only heightened the bone-chilling suspense. As the reader, I kept waiting for the boogie man to appear. This created a delicious, suspenseful feeling. I became so engrossed that wind and house noises made me gulp, and I shut closet doors before I continued. Usually, I share my thoughts on the characters but felt even my opinions of them might reveal things. Winter People reminded me of those tales whispered around the campfire late at night. Those urban legends that gave you goosebumps and had you checking behind your shoulder. Within this creepy, bone-tingling horror tale there is a message or warning. Creep-tastic!

The Winter People beacons the reader to pull up a chair. Unique and chilling McMahon spun a tale that the reader is sure to remember long after the book is finished. Fans of ghost stories and paranormal suspense should add this to their reading list.

About Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon

Born in 1968 and grew up at her grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where she was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. Wrote her first short story in third grade. Graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and she decided to take some time to think about whether she wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, she wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with her partner, Drea, while they built their own house. Over the years, she has been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness β€” She quit her last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, She gave birth to their daughter, Zella. These days, they’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings her immense pleasure.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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74 Responses to “The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon”

  1. Franny

    Wow, this book sounds amazing!! I found myself being quite into mystery/thriller movies, lately, so I’m definitely interested in this one!! For some reason it made me think of the movie Mama, lol

    Franny recently posted: Franny's Ramblings #1
    • kimbacaffeinate

      I haven’t watched the movie Mama..but you have me curious now..LOL

  2. Silvia

    This book gives me the creeps and fascinates me at the same time… And yes, I take that as a good sign! You’re ruining me with these great reviews for mystery/paranormal thrillers, you know that, right? *face down on the desk*
    And, since we’re on the subject, the UK publisher sent me Dark Witch by Nora Roberts to review. On three. One, two, three… YEAH! πŸ˜€

  3. Christine

    Creeptastic is right! I’m posting my review tomorrow & really loved this one. I can’t wait to read more of McMahon’s backlist now that this book has turned her into a new favorite author of mine πŸ™‚

    Christine recently posted: Thoughts on Books that "Count"
    • kimbacaffeinate

      Sweet Christine, I am delighted to hear you enjoyed this too. It was different and well done. I will certainly be reading more of McMahon’s works.

  4. Jenny

    First of all, I’m madly in love with this cover. I love how we can just barely make out the houses through the fog, it definitely adds a very eerie feeling. This sounds like such a well done story, I love that it made you get up and shut closet doors and be hugely aware of any strange noise. Must read!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed Jenny, the cover just spoke to me. It was very well done and I loved how she brought the past and present to life.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This is perfect for by the fire, it held my attention from the first page..

  5. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I have read one book by this author…and I did not enjoy it. But this one sounds like the kind of story that engages me. Thanks for sharing!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      hmm, this was my first by her and I really liked her approach to telling the kept things suspenseful

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I remember you are not a fan of suspenseful, hopefully you will find something you might enjoy later this week from me πŸ™‚

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is suspenseful, and intense but no gore etc..and yes it is very good!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is hard as a reviewer, we cannot say yes to them all..I have many regrets but sheesh how many can I read a month..LOL and I refuse to accept more than I can do. Glad the library has it!!

  6. Giselle

    oh this sounds deliciously creepy! I don’t think I,d heard of it before either. I like when stories like this – mysteries- are told in past/present POV I find it’s a really good way to get us to the climax with a lot of suspense and not giving away everything. Great review!!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      She did an excellent job of delivering this tale through her characters and journals. I loved the constant suspense. I hope you get a chance to try The Winter People

  7. Ginny

    I have been wanting to get over here and read your review all day to see what you thought of this book. It has been on my wish list so I’m excited to see that you enjoyed it. I think this is one that I can handle on the scare factor. Right? Maybe? Man I wish I wasn’t such a “sally”…my word for big baby scaredy pants. πŸ™‚

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was my first read for her and I am anxious to try more πŸ™‚

  8. laura thomas

    Had to come by and check this out after I saw the title in my inbox. Just knew it would be an eerie cover, and some mystery and suspense should keep me warm on a cold night while reading this. Going on my TBR. Thanks for sharing and for your recommendation.

  9. Ro Mejia

    Fantastic Review! Love it. This is my kind of book. I love suspense along with a great story line. Thanks for the heads up on this book. I will have to add it to my list of TBR.


    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thank you Ro, this was good and I look forward to seeing what you think πŸ™‚

  10. Berls

    Ok, I may be a bit too easy to creep out, but your review gave me goosebumps. LOL I guess just the thought of being that nervous while reading made me nervous. I do think the story sounds pretty great. I look it up for DAYTIME reading.

    Berls recently posted: Sunday Post |31st Edition
    • kimbacaffeinate

      It wasn’t so much scary as suspenseful and waiting for the other shoe to drop..LOL