By Jennifer McMahon
A vengeful sorceress with a secret, two grieving mothers, a family living off the grid and a portal between worlds marked by a rock formation dubbed “the Devil’s Hand” make for a chilling and mysterious story.
At the heart of this dark tale is the idea of bringing the dead back to life — and the terrible consequences of doing so.
Author Jennifer McMahon weaves her story backward and forward in time from January 1908 to the present day. The action comes to a climax on a snowy winter’s night at the Washburne farm when Katherine, a grieving mother and widow; Candace, a greedy divorcee; and Ruthie and Fawn, whose mother, Alice Washburne, has gone missing, meet trying to put together pieces of the sorceress’s secret that they have independently uncovered.
The farm was where Sara Harrison Shea lived in 1908 when her eight-year-old daughter Gertie was found dead at the bottom of a well. And that was when Sara opened the handwritten letter the woman she called “Auntie” had given her. And when Sara started recording her terrible story in a book she called “Visitors from the Other Side; The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea.”
Despite all of Sara’s efforts to hide the letter and her diary, bits and pieces of the knowledge Auntie shared with her have spread about. Now Katherine and Candace want to use the information and Ruthie and Fawn want answers to explain their mother’s disappearance.
McMahon brings the natural and the supernatural together seamlessly. The quaint, Victorian town of West Hall contrasts with the dark woods and looming Devil’s Hand surrounding the Harrison-Washburne farm. Auntie’s dark lore is juxtaposed with the bright and bold knitted scarves and hats Alice Washburne makes to sell at the local farmers market.
THE WINTER PEOPLE starts on a dramatic note and McMahon keeps the tension taut all the way to the end. In the tradition of the best ghost stories, however, this story doesn’t end . . .
About the Author: Jennifer McMahon (1968 – )
Novelist Jennifer McMahon published her first novel, PROMISE NOT TO TELL, in 2007. Publishers Weekly
described it as “part mystery-thriller and part ghost story.”
“That novel drew me to write about the unexplained, the dark side, the fears that keep me awake at high, the way the past haunts the present,” McMahon says on her website. It has since been released in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
While told to “write what you know,” in college and graduate school, she says her own personal mantra developed over the years is “write what scares you.”
THE WINTER PEOPLE, published in 2014, was her seventh novel. It has been followed by THE NIGHT SISTER (2015), BURNTOWN (2017), THE INVITED (2019) and THE DROWNING KIND (2021).
She is known for blending genres — psychological mysteries, horror stories, ghost stories, thrillers, murder mysteries and legends — into suspenseful, imaginative and twisty tales.
McMahon studied poetry at Vermont College and is a graduate of Goddard College
She has a civil union with her partner, Drea. They live in Montpelier, VT, in a “creepy old Victorian on a hill,” with their daughter Zella.