The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

I’m going to say this right up front even though I know people will yell at me for it but that is nothing new. I read this book for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Community Readalong while I was doing a re-listen of Pet Sematary and yes, I now realize that this was a very dumb idea indeed and I do NOT recommend doing so to any of you because both books have some very similar themes. “Sometimes, dead is bettah" and that’s all I’ll say about that. I know it’s never a good idea to compare one writers work to another but in this case it was impossible not to do so as I was reading them both at the same time and it is 100% my own damn fault. 

The King book will destroy you emotionally. It does grief so exquisitely that it breaks your heart as if the grief were your own. It takes its time making you feel it all deep within every one of your bones and it remains hyper focused on fleshing out all of the awful/terrible/heartbreaking feelings as Louis Creed is faced down with nothing but terrible choices. The Winter People doesn’t give itself enough time to ponder the grief of the situations its characters face because it throws in so much other. Much of the other was unnecessary to the core story, if you ask me, and I felt that it took away from the compelling storyline set in the past. But this is just my opinion, of course, and you are getting what you paid for here. I know people love this book. Please don’t come at me because I didn’t fall madly in love. I wanted to but sometimes love is elusive.

This is a haunting story of grief and emotional turmoil and there is also a mystery or two or three. There is a timeline based in 1908 and a timeline set in the current day. As I said up there somewhere, my favorite timeline was the one set in the past. I had so many questions and felt an amazing sense of time and place and I needed to know all the answers. It was atmospheric and eerie as hell and gripped me right away. Honestly, I never wanted to leave 1908. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about the story or the characters in the present day. They weren’t nearly as compelling or interesting and they only seemed to add confusion to the story. Or maybe it’s just my faulty brain.

At any rate, this book is a difficult one to review which is why I’ve put it off for several weeks now. The writing in the beginning was five star material but somewhere after the first quarter things got too bogged down and it began to hurt my brain. There is a big reveal in the end that simply didn’t ring true to me because one character wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to buy into the situation – and that’s all I can say about that. There’s also another decision made near the end that left me . . . frustrated. Again, that one comes down to characterization. Had the plot not been quite so over-stuffed there may have been more space to explore the characters and understand some of their decisions. 

I can say this book kept me guessing and it kept me reading and the early parts were spectacular so I’m giving it a 3 for those reasons. 

I will leave you with my favorite creepy quote:

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket. Just the right size for a girl like me.”