Some families are big. Some families are small. Some families are normal and some families are dysfunctional. My own very small family puts the fun in dysfunctional. Would you have expected anything less? Growing up, I always wanted sisters. Naturally, when I was ten, I got a brother. We tortured each other. He stabbed me*. I tied him to a chair. He made me watch Rugrats (pure torture). I goaded him into cliff jumping. Now that we’re older, we get along quite well now (read: we’re pretty much the same). He forced me to read World War Z. I forced him to read Zone One. He strongly suggested reading Game of Thrones, for which I haven’t thanked him yet, but should. I insisted he read American Gods, for which I got a vague “yeah, I just read the part where the guy gets…swallowed”. In short, despite the fact he’s still in college, he’s one of my favorite people and I’d do
anything many things for him.
Familial devotion is one of the primary themes in Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People. The eerie novel tells the story of the nineteenth century Shea family, who lived in rural West Hall, Vermont in an isolated farmhouse. In present day, Ruthie, her sister, and her mother live in the same farmhouse. The two families are connected, but is the extent of that connection Sara’s lost diary or does it run deeper than that? One day, Sara’s daughter mysteriously disappears into the surrounding woods. Her body is eventually found at the bottom of the well. In the present day, Ruthie’s mother Alice disappears. Ruthie and her sister Fawn begin a panicked search for their missing mother. What they uncover along the way is disturbing, thrilling, and haunting.
The Winter People** is a novel about love, loss, and obligation. If you lost your daughter, your husband, or your sibling, what would you do for one more week with them? Nothing is quite as it seems in the idyllic winter wonderland of Vermont. The dead walk the earth, little girls and their dolls have their own secret language, and the town’s residents disappear with alarming frequency. McMahon’s atmospheric tale, reminiscent of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary, is part-zombie tale, part-family saga, and completely enthralling (though not wholly compelling). Every once in a while I need a book that is less of an experience and more entertaining – this was that book for me. It really is a great book for a cold and dreary day. 4/5.
Are you close with your siblings (or family in general)? Or, better yet, did you terrorize each other when you were younger?
Ruthie woke up to the familiar and comforting sounds of her mother making breakfast downstairs. There was the smell of coffee, bacon, and cinnamon rolls.
You may need something comforting after this one. Serve with cinnamon rolls (I’m not fond of cinnamon rolls, so I haven’t tried this recipe). Heart-shaped, of course…
*I will never, ever let him live that down. I still tell that story simply to embarrass him.
**I received this book in exchange for an honest review.