I first learned about The Winter People from Allison, whose review really made me want to read the book, but I completely forgot about it, until she posted her top 5 mystery novels. It was the first week where we had a little bit of cold weather (rain!) and I was looking for a ghost story that would provide just enough creep to satisfy my craving for such a novel, without going too deep into the horror territory. The Winter People was just that. It’s not a horror story, but it’s definitely creepy.
It plays off in two time periods, a century apart. Sara first learned about sleepers (dead people brought back to life) when she was nine years old and because of her inquisitive nature she asked her ‘Auntie’ about it, who promised to tell her everything she knows about sleepers, but she only needs to use this information when she really needs it.
Present time we have Ruthie, who lives with her little sister and mother, Alice, in Sara’s old house. When her mother goes missing and they are on a quest looking for her, Ruthie chances upon Sara’s diary. Sara who died a few months after her daughter Gertie’s death in 1908. In this diary we learn of Sara’s belief in the paranormal and also explains Sara’s abnormal behavior in the months leading up to her death. When Ruthie reads her diary, a lot of the town’s disappearances can suddenly be explained.
When I picked up this book I expected something scary, but in fact it was not. There are most definitely some scary parts which, if you let your imagination play along, would result in a restless sleep, but other than that, it was just CREEPY. Really creepy. About what a sleeper is, the condition of the person who become a sleeper and the very real risks people take when they create one. The story also leads into somewhat of a tragedy, because of actions taken that was purely motivated by good intentions.
Sarah’s diary and the storyline of the past were my favourite parts of the novel. The supernatural elements weren’t so far-fetched either. This book kept me up at night, wanting to devour as much of the story as I can. The setting of the novel were so well described, even I who has no idea of what a snowy winter feels like, felt chills while reading it. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and I’m glad I picked it up. You’ll love it if you’re looking for a haunting mystery novel with lots of creep thrown into it!