Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button & join in! Be sure to include a link to your post in the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post!
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Putnam Adult (February 3, 2011)
- ISBN-10: 0399157158
- Source: Publisher
George lost his older brother, Freddie, to the war. His death, and the aftermath, caused George to suffer a nervous breakdown. Now recovered, George is driving through the mountains of France during a snowstorm, loses control of his car & nearly drives over the side of the mountain. George’s life flashes before his eyes and he immediately thinks of his brother’s dying moments:
“And I wondered if he had seen death, like a shadow, coming to meet him? Had he recognized the moment for what it was? Looking back, I was astonished at how these thoughts came, so gentle and so quiet, into my mind. No more pain or fear, only peace. I had the sensation of the light dimming and a downy softness, like black feathers, and I hoped George had felt this obscure pleasure at the moment of his departing. No terror, most of all no pain. Just release. The sense of being welcomed home.
Hours later, George awakens and hears a voice in the quiet wintry solace of the mountains, “I am the last, the last, the…The others have slipped away into the darkness.” He continues to slip in & out of consciousness, and when he eventually reawakens he climbs out of the wreckage and attempts to find help or lodging in a nearby village.
He arrives at the village Nulle and finds lodging in a rooming house owned by Madame Galy & her husband. His hostess invites him to attend a celebration, la fete de Saint-Etienne that evening. He promises to meet her there later that evening.
Using a map given to him by Madame Galy, George trudges off in search of the celebration. A mist has started to fall, making it difficult to read the map properly. George finally comes across a large building, the sound of music coming from inside.
He meets a young woman named Fabrissa & they begin conversing. Suddenly, George finds himself talking about his brother, remembering every aspect of the dreadful day his family learned of his death. Fabrissa listens intently & responds:
“The dead leave their shadows, an echo of the space within which they lived. They haunt us, never fading or growing older as we do. The loss we grieve is not just their futures but our own.”
Hearing her voice, George questions if it was Fabrissa’s voice he heard in the mountains earlier that day.
Fabrissa then shares the story of her brother’s death, the death of dozens of other villagers as they were buried alive within the caverns in the mountains. George begins to get dizzy, to lose focus of Fabrissa. She fades away, beckoning George to “find us…find us and bring us home.”
George awakens, back in the boarding house. Madame Galy expresses her concern for George after she didn’t see him at the celebration the night before. George is confused but can’t seem to stop thinking about Fabrissa & is determined to find her again. He soon learns that all is not as it seems, that the dead do leave shadows….
As a fan of Moss’ Labyrinth, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of this book. The Winter Ghosts is a haunting tale about loss, and uncovering secrets long buried. George grieves the loss of his brother, how his death changed the way he was treated by their parents. Fabrissa mourns the loss of an entire village to a senseless war.
While I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much Moss’ other books, I did fall in love with the author’s vibrant & detailed prose. Her descriptions of the scenery, the frozen French mountains, are so vivid you will literally feel the brisk air, the quiet serenity. The setting comes to life as you turn the pages, the characters stepping right out of the pages of the book.
The Winter Ghosts is also considerably much shorter than Moss’ previous two books. While I don’t believe the storyline suffered due to this, I was definitely dying to learn more about George, and Freddie, and Fabrissa. On the other hand, I feel that adding too much additional text would take away from the effectiveness of the story.
The Winter Ghosts is the perfect chilling book to curl up with on a cold, dark wintery day. Highly recommended.