I really liked this book, and am glad that I have found a new author to follow when I’m in the mood for something creepy and dark. I think “winter people” are like the opposite of “summer people” which is to say, the opposite of people who are only there for a short time.
There are several different stories in this novel. The main one is of Sara and Martin and their daughter Gertie, whom Sara loves maybe a little more than Martin is comfortable with. Sara is known as the magic haunting girl of the town, and in the future there are legends of her wandering around after death, missing children, people brought back from the dead, and monsters in the woods.
The second story is in the present day, with Ruthie (who lives in the house that Sara lived in) and Katherine, whose dead husband mysteriously went to see Ruthie’s mother on the day he died. You just know that Ruthie and Katherine and Ruthie’s sister Fawn (who talks to an imaginary friend/doll who has creepy prescient knowledge.) will piece together the story of what really happened. Who killed whom, and how,and why, and who is really haunting the town?
Some of the tropes are probably old hat to people who read a lot of horror. Creepy New England town, check. (Thanks Stephen King!) Little girl with imaginary friend. Well that appears to have no bottom. Mysterious half-Indian witch. People who come back from the dead but who aren’t quite right. There were some other cool things too. There’s a house with tons of tiny hiding spots. There’s a closet that’s been boarded up to keep whatever’s inside, inside. There’s a field that when it’s plowed comes up with offerings or chattel (of the dead?). There’s a ring made of bone with strange script on it. There are people who seem to turn into animals or animals who may be people in disguise. Caves and sacrifice. Doll-houses. Cameras with clues on the hard drive. All the elements of a scary story are there, and if you don’t spoil the mystery by trying too hard to figure it out, the mystery is fun too.
It’s kind of sad, as many horror stories are, in that some of the people who die are people who don’t deserve to die. But it’s not as sad as some other horror novels I’ve read, in which I spend more time crying than locking the doors and starting at strange noises.
I recommend this for people who like horror, but who haven’t read so much of it that all the elements seem trite by now.