The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"The Winter People" takes place in two time periods, 1908 and the present. It tells the story of a small family, a creepy rock formation called The Devil's Hand, and a legend about "sleepers"--the dead brought back to life--that may be true or may be the rantings of a madwoman.
I liked the 1908 storyline much better than the present day. Some of the situations in the present day thread, especially in the second half of the book, just didn't seem believable at all to me, even given a little leeway for the sake of a good yarn. The 1908 thread, on the other hand, is engrossing and truly scary.
The tagline to Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" was "sometimes dead is better." That applies to this story, too. In Sara Shea, who loses her son and then her daughter (followed quickly by her grip on reality), McMahon has created an unforgettable character. Too bad nobody in the present day segment comes close to being as interesting.
In terms of sheer entertainment, "The Winter People" is pretty good. It's hard to put down. However, the first half is better than the second half because of the silliness of some of the present day scenes. I think she should have just stuck to the 1908 story by itself; it was genuinely frightening. She didn't, though, and the novel is the poorer for it.
View all my reviews