The Winter Family

Fun fact about me? I hate the smell of vanilla. It makes me gag. The one and only time in my life where I consumed a tad too much to drink involved vanilla flavored vodka. Despite that being over a decade ago, the smell still sends me running*. In this particular novel, the variety of killing and torture is prolific and creative, but the only scene that turned my stomach a little was one involving vanilla extract in a pantry.

That being said, The Winter Family, a gang of mismatched men headed by the one and only Augustus Winters, spans from the civil war to 1900. It’s only natural that there are a lot of casualties. Kind of. Augustus Winters likes to be cruel. He’s cold (with a rather fitting name), tough, and calculating – and he enjoys that. From Georgia to Chicago to Canada to California, the novel follows this despicable band of mercenaries as they move from one disaster – they’ve caused – to the next.

“The world’s a hard fucking place,” Winter said. His hand moved just a little on the stock of his shotgun. “A little hard to get by with just please.”

It’s quite possible that the bodies pile up faster than the pages in this one, but don’t let that put you off. It’s also a stellar, well-plotted tale of brutality and lawlessness during a time when the world was incredibly brutal and lawless. There are no heroes here, nor any anti-heroes, it’s just the story of ruthless men justifying their actions however they need to to make it through the day. If a historical western noir with more than a few bodies and bloody good writing** sounds appealing, get this one immediately.

(Also, that cover! Right?)

How do you follow up a brutal read? Do you read something a bit lighter after? Sometimes I need to and sometimes I just jump right back in.

Winter Family

Pair this one with Vanilla Sugar Cookies (from My Life as a Mrs.). You may need something sweet to take off the bitter edge of despair. I haven’t personally tried these, primarily for the reason listed above, but they look good, right?

*Barely an exaggeration.
**Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

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  • Naomi

    Thanks for trying this one out for me! Sometimes I feel like just this type of book.
    Too bad about the smell of vanilla. I’m the same way about root beer. I once got the stomach flu after eating a root beer float (about 30 years ago), and I still can’t drink it.

    • Rory O’Connor

      I feel like I should like root beer, but I really, really don’t. The flavor is just overwhelming. Any foods that coincided with the stomach flu generally can’t happen again.

  • Kate

    I hope you don’t feel the same way about the smell of coconut and lemon (coconut, lemon and vanilla scents being my favourites…).

    • Rory O’Connor

      I don’t. Lemon is actually my favorite scent, followed by cedar (good in small amounts).

  • Lianne @

    I have been seeing this book everywhere lately. I reckon I’d have to be in a particular mood to read it but it sounds interesting (and the book cover looks different too!). But in answer to your question, yeah, I usually follow up a brutal read with a light read…

    I could say I like vanilla scents in small, subtle doses. It gets nauseating when the scent is overpowering and just everywhere… O_O

    • Rory O’Connor

      It does. Vanilla is not a bad fragrance, but too much can send me running.

  • Leah

    I thought this book was SO much fun! I had expected something different going in, but once I began reading I was hooked. & I know I’m not alone in thinking this is basically Tarantino in book form. 🙂 Fun, fun, fun – as long as you don’t mind the mile-long body count.

    • Rory O’Connor

      Tarantino in book form is the perfect description. It’s fun if you don’t take it TOO seriously.

  • Laura Frey

    That cover, those cookies… this puts my in mind of The Sisters Brothers, but maybe less quirky?

    • Rory O’Connor

      Of all the ones on the list, it’s closest in nature to The Sisters Brothers, but not quite as funny.

  • Ciska van der Lans

    I really love the sound of this one and have added it on my shelves a while ago already. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    • Rory O’Connor

      It was one of the better books I’ve read recently, not quite a book slump breaker, but thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Kerry M

    Ooooh, I hadn’t heard too much about this but by the sound of it, it’s something I would like. AND THOSE COOKIES!

    • Rory O’Connor

      It brutal….and fun (wrong word, almost right sentiment). I really need someone to make those cookies for me (minus so much vanilla).

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