Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (February 11, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0385538499
  • Source: Publisher

West Hall, Vermont has a centuries-old history of strange disappearances and activity tracked back to old, family legends.  The most infamous is that of Sara Harrison Shea, found dead shortly after her daughter Gertie’s death. The only witness to her death was her husband, so stunned by what transpired that could not speak, taking his own life soon after.

Fast forward to present day: Ruthie, her mother Alice and her younger sister Fawn now live in Sara’s farmhouse. They’ve always lived a secluded life, Alice warning her daughters to stay clear of anyone who walks out of the forest. One morning, Ruthie awakes to find her mother missing. As she scrambles to search for a cause for the disappearance, she is startled to find the diary of Sara Harrison Shea in one of her mother’s many hiding places in the house.  Just as she begins to retrace Sara’s past, she crosses paths with another woman desperate to find answers. The fate of many are in her hands, for she must find a way to prevent the past from repeating itself…in the most horrific of ways.

Each time I read one of McMahon’s novels, I swear that it’s my favorite so far. In each case I’m floored when she writes yet another novel that exceeds my expectations. The Winter People is such a novel. I’m a long time fan of the dark and mysterious, of horror and the supernatural. The Winter People is everything I could have ever hoped for in a novel. Its slow, methodical pacing had me desperate to know more, using every free and waking moment to read just a few more pages.  The ties to old and ancient folklore and the dark and desolate setting compound into a truly outstanding read.

Additionally, the loss the characters experience is genuine. My heart ached, I shed tears, their pain coming alive before me.  I wanted to console them, offer my sympathy for the character building is so well done that the characters became more than just an aspect of a novel but a genuine vessel for my sympathy.  Add on McMahon’s outstandingly skilled writing and you have the most perfect of novels, in my mind.  This will be a novel I will rave about (and likely convince my book club to read!) for it has so much to offer, so much to take away. Highly, highly recommended.

Visit McMahon’s web site and read about the backstory for this novel. Chilling!

8 thoughts on “Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon





  1. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read her yet. I know I should; I’m pretty sure I have at least one on the shelves, but…. soon. Very soon.




  2. Pingback: Wednesday’s Review ~ The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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