A small Vermont town surrounded by legends of the undead and plagued by mysterious disappearances for as long as anyone can remember. Only a dead woman’s diary holds the answer to West Hall’s dark past. But will the diary be used for good or to perpetuate more evil. Will a person’s desire overwhelm their common sense?
This is the basis of Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People. The story starts and ends with the words of Sara Harrison Shea. She is the basis for the horror that has befallen West Hall, Vermont. Told in many different perspectives, the story slowly begins the story of the town and what has been plaguing it’s people for centuries. Two people in the present find Sara’s diary explaining the origins of West Hall’s ghosts. First Ruthie finds the diary after she wakes up to discover her other missing from their home. In her search for her mother, she and her sister Fawn discover an ancient diary and wallets from people they have never heard of buried in the floorboards. The second person to discover the diary is Katherine, a woman overcome by grief who moves to West Hall to find out why her husband went to the town the day he died.
The story moves along swiftly, the best parts in my opinion are the bits from Sara Harrison Shea’s diary. The story is very suspenseful and like all good ghost stories did make me look over my shoulder from time to time. Things going bump in the closet have always terrified me since I was a kid and this story awakened those fears a bit. The undead in the closet, shiver.
I did think, however, that at times McMahon had way too many plot lines going at once. She started out simply and it worked. I was intrigued and wanted to know. And then she introduced at least five other plot lines and it lessened the suspense for me. The additional plot lines kind of diluted the ghost story. I understand why she did it after finishing the novel but still feel like I would have liked it more without so many parallel plot lines. It took the focus off the ghost story/horror aspect and made it more like an action movie. The story of Sara Harrison Shea could have well stood on it’s own, even throw in Ruthie and her family. But the rest feel superfluous. It almost felt like McMahon had to scramble to figure out how to tie up all the loose ends in the plot and had to add all of these additional characters and plots in order to do so.
Even with the extra plot lines, the main story is fantastic. It made my skin crawl in places and made my heart beat quicker. I love a good scary story and the main thread in this novel is a great one. Read it yourself and find out how sleepers come back to life and, in some cases, live for eternity.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!