Winter People by Jennifer McMahon


West Hall, Vermont has, like many small towns, urban legends.  The towns most notorious story is one a woman named Sarah Harrison Shea who in the early 1900’s was found in a bloody heap, dead, just months after her own young daughter Gertie had tragically died.  Through the years, in the woods that were a part of West Hall, other mysterious deaths and disappearances had taken place, only adding fuel to the legend. The truth of what had happened to Sarah was never discovered but the elaborate stories were ones told around camp fires and during moonless nights….

Now, over 100 years later, 19-year-old Ruthie lives with her mother Alice and her little sister Fawn in the very farmhouse that once belonged to the infamous Sarah.  One morning the girls wake to find their mother Alice missing with no sign of where she may have gone.  As Ruthie explores her mother’s room for clues she finds part of a diary under the floor boards that says it is the secret diary of Sarah Harrison Shea. As Ruthie begins to read the diary she finds it is filled with stories of people called sleepers, those brought back to life from the dead.  Sarah not only believed it was possible, she explained how she did it for her daughter Gertie, and… even more alarming, how to bring anyone back to life.

Sheila’s observation:  Have we learned nothing from Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery?  Bringing people back from the dead is never a good idea…


The Winter People brought up reminiscence of The Returned, and yes, Pet Cemetery.  How often have we thought if we only had a second chance with someone who had passed away unexpectedly and/or far too young?  How far would one go to bring that person back if they could?  AND time after time in our literature we have discovered….  they never come back the way they were.  (Walking Dead anyone?  Just not a great time….  😛  )

This opening description might make you think this book is dark, but actually it is not so much dark as it is just a very interesting tale that travels back and forth seamlessly between Sarah’s time of 1908 , and Ruthie’s life of current time.  As you read, Sarah’s story as told through her diary entries and see her life move forward as Ruthie, reading the diary all these years later follows the book back in time to hopefully find a connection to her mother’s disappearance. 

Beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Kathe Mazur.  I found Winter People to be a familiar tale, but told in a different way that was unique and that made it a decent read.

Winter People fills the Vermont slot in this challenge

38 thoughts on “Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

  1. “A decent read”? That tells me you weren’t crazy about this book.

    I won this book but have yet to receive it. I wonder if I’ll agree with you or with all the good reviews I’ve read.

      1. Lol, it is really weird that it scared me so much! I am a huge Stephen King fan, watch a million horror movies, but this book got to me for some reason. I think it was the girls home alone, and the eyes in the closet! And the cat. I was worried the cat was going to die.

  2. I am definitely going to be listening to this one. When I picked up to read an e galley it was just the wrong time, didn’t get into it. I know it’s a genre I’ll like, and I’ve heard from 3 separate people that the audio was great.
    Thanks for yet another vote for my listening.

  3. I got the audio of this yesterday with my new credits. I am just trying to decide what to listen to next… I have a bit of a pile because I only managed to finish one audiobook in February!

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