The Winter People
Good lord. A book hasn’t scared me this much since The Witches in second grade. I had to stop reading it before bed because it was giving me nightmares. Granted, it doesn’t help that my backyard very closely resembles the cover of the book. Going out to feed the horse at night was … exciting.
That being said, I really enjoyed The Winter People. I saved the bulk of it for my day off and read it straight through. The narrative shifts between three women, two of which were very well crafted. First we meet Sara, who kept a secret diary in 1908 chronicling the months between the mysterious death of her daughter, and her own not long after. She tells of her own childhood in the Vermont farmhouse, and her “auntie,” a sort of witch-doctor who loved Sara very much, but was overall a scary sort of lady.
In the present day, 19 year old Ruthie is living in Sara’s farmhouse. Her mother disappears, her sister is sick, AND THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE WOODS. Trying to put the story together, Ruthie has the vague notion that there’s something sketchy in her mothers past, so she doesn’t alert the police. Ruthie is very likable – a young woman torn between her desire to get out of town and her responsibility to her family. It was a little easier to fall asleep after a Ruthie chapter.
I could have done without the third storyline. Kate is digging around West Hall for information about the death of her husband. It felt forced, as if it had been added as an afterthought to give the novel … well I don’t know, because it really didn’t give me anything. I skimmed Kate’s sections rather quickly so I could get back to Sara and Ruthie.
Inevitably Ruthie finds bits of Sara’s diary – there are hints of people living in the woods, hidey-holes all over the old house, a secret passed down, and possibly a ritual to bring the dead back to life. Yikes!
With every new piece of the puzzle you find, you lose another. So suspenseful – you will be plagued with chills throughout the entire book, and then for a while after.