Friday, December 27, 2013

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon is set in a Vermont town of "strange disappearances and old legends." Key to the plot is a mysterious structure known as the Devil's Hand. ("The Devil's Hand, people called it, the ledge of rock that stuck up out of the ground like a giant hand, fingers rising from the earth. Haunted land, people said. A place where monsters dwelled." p. 21)

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It is very readable, but I was put off by some plot points meant to confuse the issue that were never explained to my satisfaction. The text is nicely atmospheric and the mystery imaginative. There are some nice character touches; I particularly liked the character of a recent widow, Katherine, and her building of dioramas. The narrative goes back and forth between the early 1900s and the present day and includes chapters from a secret diary written in 1908 which is known to be missing key pages.

The Winter People reminded me a bit of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (which I also wanted to like more than I did). If you like a strange tale with touches of folklore and other-worldly mystery, you might enjoy The Winter People.

I read an advance reading copy of The Winter People. It is scheduled to be published in February 2014.

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