Jennifer McMahon

#BookReview ‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon #TuesdayBookBlog

winter people

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Parts of this book are wonderful – the writing is evocative, immersing and skilful; the characterisation is, on the whole, beautifully done, and it is chilling and gripping. Ruthie and Fawn are engaging and empathetic and the mystery of their mother’s disappearance is cleverly interwoven with the haunting story of Sara Harrison Shea. Sara’s grief at the loss of her daughter is raw and honest and does make you think how far you would go and what you would do to save the ones you love, whatever the consequences.

My issue with this novel though is that I just didn’t believe in the motivation of one of the characters – a character whose actions are responsible for the tragedy at the heart of this book. It’s difficult to be more detailed without giving too much away, but I was left thinking, why did they do that? They cared about Sara, loved her, so why do what they did? It just didn’t ring true. Yes, a reason was given, an event that happened that was supposed to drive this particular character, but for me it wasn’t enough of a motivation. This ruined the whole novel for me unfortunately, which is a real shame because the writing is wonderful, the atmosphere and the setting beautifully drawn. So disappointing that the plot falls short.

3.5 stars

Friday Five Challenge: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Welcome to my Friday Five Challenge – a new challenge courtesy of Rosie Amber’s blog.

biscuits

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

I decided to look at Women’s Fiction on the Amazon Kindle store because I’m not really sure what that actually means! I then selected ‘historical’.

‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon caught my eye.

winter people

Amazon.co.uk       Amazon.com

The title is great and I like unfussy covers – this one is beautifully done.

Then I saw the price – £7.36! For a Kindle edition! It had better be really good.

Book description:

The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Number of pages – 336.

Reviews – 6: 1 five star, 4 four star, 1 three star, but it’s only been out since February. The reviews are generally positive but don’t exactly recommend it whole-heartedly.

Would I buy or pass?  (surprisingly) Buy

Analysis

I love the cover of this book and I love the book description (although I don’t set much store by ‘The New York Times bestselling author’ bit as almost everyone seems to be that these days). The story sounds intriguing, spooky and intelligent. The reviews are ok, not great but not terrible. However, reviews are so subjective and, unless all the reviewers are pointing out the same faults, then I prefer to go by my gut feeling. After all, reviews aren’t exactly reliable – I’ve lost count of the amount of terrible books I’ve read with glowing five star reviews. The price is off-putting – it seems way too high for a kindle edition, and the paperback is £11.99. I know that writers should be recompensed fairly and maybe we’ve all got too used to expecting to pay peanuts, but I do think this is far too much. Having said that, I probably spend twice that amount on coffee every week and books are far more important, so I am going to buy this one. But for that money, it had better be really good! Watch this space for my review.

There’ll be another Friday Five Challenge next week – please feel free to join in! Pop along to Rosie’s blog to see her Friday Five Challenge.