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The Winter People  By  cover art

The Winter People

By: Jennifer McMahon
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell,Kathe Mazur
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters...sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, 19-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

©2014 Jennifer McMahon (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Jennifer McMahon is a writer of exceptional talent, and The Winter People is a hypnotic, gripping, and deeply moving thriller. With her beautifully drawn characters and complex, layered, and suspenseful story, McMahon has woven a dream from which I didn't want to wake - and couldn't have even if I wanted to." (Lisa Unger, author of In the Blood)
"In an edge-of-your-seat scary ghost story, Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People yanks you from one page to the next by expertly weaving the past and present. I will never look at the woods behind my home in the same way again!" (Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence )

Featured Article: Authors Like Stephen King


Best-selling author Stephen King has published a staggering amount of work, from gripping crime thrillers to epic fantasy series, winning prestigious awards. Yet King’s varied writing is united by common themes, styles, characters, and settings. King fans will recognize a book by him for elements ranging from child characters to atmospheric settings, from eerie psychological horror to New England locations. Undeniably, King’s influence is evident in many of the horror genre’s leading and emerging authors. If you're a fan of Stephen King, these horror authors should be on your radar.

What listeners say about The Winter People

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Get past the narration of the first chapter

Any additional comments?

Some of the narration was great; however, the narration of the first chapter -- in which the reader was, presumably, attempting to sound lyrical & whimsical -- made me want to put a pencil through my eardrum. Almost returned audiobook at that point but skipped past it & as the narrative got more serious, so did the narration. Thankfully. (I really wish some of these reader would just read & stop trying to "act.")

74 people found this helpful

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Stay...Out...of...the...Woods


What's October without some goosebumps? It's challenging to find a good scary read that doesn't run through your head like a low budget horror film, so my October horror/thriller binge this year began with this novel, chosen from previous Audible members' great reviews. McMahon starts off strong creating an eerie and remote tale set against a bitter winter in Vermont during the early 1900's. From the opening pages, the story is charged with forboding and chills as a young Sara Harrison tells about the day she glimpsed a villager in the woods, whose funeral she had just attended. The distraught mother of the supposedly dead girl whisks her away and whispers to Sara, "Maybe someday you'll love someone enough to understand." Someday she will...

The story moves back and forth from the past to present day as McMahon gathers a diverse cast of characters that will all be affected by the mysterious legends of the Winter People. In the modern sequences the story starts to reveal it's secrets when Alice, the eccentric mother of girls Ruthie and Fawn disappears and the girls began a search that turns up clues right beneath the floorboards in their mother's bedroom. Another present day character is a newly widowed woman that is still mourning the death of her son. Her need to understand the recent death of her husband propels her on a journey parallel to Ruthie and Fawn's. Throughout their journeys, entries from Sara's diaries are read that flesh out the legend and the characters, building the sense of impending doom when the searcher's paths collide.

The tale is thick with atmosphere and suspense, an immersive read that is spooky and engaging, but it does require a hefty dose of suspending logic if you want to just enjoy a supernatural read for the sake of some good shivers. Sadness and sorrow don't automatically erase IQ points and make us stupid, and following the monster into a dark cave unarmed and unassisted is just that. I remember seeing a movie that began with a young couple walking in the front door of their newly acquired home where they are greeted by a threatening ghostly voice that moaned, "Get out!" For someone that would have left a smoking path of retreat, it's always hard to figure out what people that don't heed any kind of ghostly advice are thinking. But therein lies the crux of the Thriller.

Recommend for a good spirited and creepy spine-chiller; the idea is vaguely along the lines of King's Pet Semetary. Wasn't it Queen that sang, "Who wants to live forever?" This book will add an *!* to that rhetorical question.

27 people found this helpful

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Atmospheric, Haunting, and Addictive

This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I don’t think I took a breath for the last hour or so. I did not want to put this book down, I needed to know what exactly was going on with everyone in the book!

This is a great story, atmospheric, haunting, and addictive. I loved how all the stories came together and all the timelines were very well written and flowed beautifully with each other. The past & present stories were both great. I also really liked the characters especially Sara because I think she went through the most emotionally.

This is a hard book to review because the way the story wraps around it would be so easy to spoil it for someone and I wouldn’t want anyone to not get the full effect of how this story plays out. So much of the story leaves you guessing and wondering what is real and what is not and I enjoyed the parts of Sara’s diary that gives so many clues as to what is really going on but also leaves much unsaid or lost. The craziness of the first big reveal caught me totally off-guard it wasn’t something I expected at all and that makes for a great book!

Cassandra Campbell & Kathe Mazur were the narrators and I thought they did a wonderful job even if their voices are very similar you still knew who was telling the story. I thought they were able to bring a softness to the tale when warranted and creeped me out just enough!(which is a good thing)

This is so much more than a ghost story it is also a story of family and what that means and how you treat people may come back to haunt you (heehee see what I did there?). But the ending OMG the ending in reference to Katherine did she?? Didn’t she??? And poor Ruthie I feel bad for her. Sorry, but just had to have my say on that and make it spoiler free, when you read the book you will understand and Yes you really do need to read this book!

Lesson #1 from this book let the dead stay dead!

5 stars

26 people found this helpful

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Good Book Spoiled By Poor Narration

I almost stopped reading this book because the narrator was so annoying. Because it got good reviews from reviewers I respect, I bought the Kindle companion and read the book.

The narrator reads the beginning in a breathy voice that got on my last nerve. I suppose she thought it sounded childlike, but it was simply irritating.

The story hops back and forth between present and past. The narrator made it incomprehensible. I was totally lost. Once in the Kindle book, I had to begin over again to get the story sorted out.

I'm glad I did, it was a worthwhile read. The plot is novel, the characters realistic and engaging. The ending provides an interesting twist on immortality.

I recommend this book, but only on Kindle or in print.

25 people found this helpful

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Structure is confusing at first but good tale

The Winter People is a ripping good ghost story that has good twists, turns, and surprises. The story jumps around in time between the past and the present, however, and is a bit hard to follow if you are not listening carefully.

25 people found this helpful

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Would rather read it myself, but great story.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Winter People to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print version, but for me, the narrator really distracted me from the story, so I have to assume that I would have liked the print version better.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Throughout the entire book, the narrator sounded pretentious and melodramatic, which was not at all who the characters were. Her focus was so greatly on her snooty diction, that sentences didn't seem to flow correctly, in the intended rhythm. Some words were dragged out unnecessarily, (e.g. "in the living rooooom, on the shellllvesss"). I'll be steering clear of her in the future, as she did this wonderful book a great disservice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

In my dreams, I'd listen to ANY book in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

This is a haunting, compelling story. Once I made it through the weird drugged-sounding narration of the first chapter, I was drawn into the story itself and can't wait to read more by Jennifer McMahon, but I would absolutely read the print version next time.

15 people found this helpful

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A Great Winter's Tale

The perfect suspense story to listen to while snowed in on a cold winter's night. Not the gratuitous violence associated with the horror genre, just a nice cerebral quest into the truly frightening realm of what if.

13 people found this helpful

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Interesting from beginning to end

Where does The Winter People rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best stories I've read lately. So often, the background story is given in the beginning and doesn't capture the readers interest but this author captured my interest from the very beginning.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Not on the edge of my seat but I looked forward to quiet time so I could listen to the story. I even shooed my husband out of the room once so I could have quiet to listen.

What about Cassandra Campbell and Kathe Mazur ’s performance did you like?

I hate to sound insulting but I do not like Cassandra Campbell's voice. She sounds so incredibly whiny that I want to reach through the book and slap her. This is the third book I've read that she's narrated and once she goes into her version of helplessness, it is mind-numbing.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Nothing extreme, just an enjoyable read.

13 people found this helpful

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Entertaining Mystery Novel

I found this audiobook very interesting and entertaining. It held my interest and I was excited to get in the car every morning and get to listen to the story further. I found the weaving of the story lines from the two different times periods (1908 and present day) told from the perspective of the different characters to be an effective story telling device. I was pretty easily able to figure out the ending, but, even so, it was still enjoyable to listen and hear the story unfold.

8 people found this helpful

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Lots of Unnecessary Chatter

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Less fluff definitely. The story droned on and on and on. It couldn't be more evident what was going on but I guess the author thought her readers would be stupid so she repeated the same things ad nauseum from the perspective of every single character in the book. Shoot me now!

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Tell the story don't marinate in it.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes but at times, especially little girl named Fawn's voice over was the most annoying voice I've ever heard.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The premise was interesting, but delivery was horrible.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Audiobooks Nest Reviews
  • 06-05-21

My new favourite horror author

This was my first Jennifer McMahon book and it was an instant favourite. She not only captures the more instinctive aspects of horror - the spooky sense-driven goosebumpy atmosphere- but the story taps into very primal ideas of right and wrong. And by that I mean, I felt the injustices and rooted for them to be righted like they had been done to me.

I cared about what happened to every single character. In some books that have two timelines I find myself skimming through one to get to the other, but somehow this had me gripped for every single moment.

The narrator was utterly brilliant. She fit the voices seamlessly and was very pleasant to listen to.

I have since listened to every one of the books of hers I could find on Audible. Sadly they’re not all there, but I await more.

4 people found this helpful

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  • W.Fenlon
  • 02-27-21

Superb

As soon as I listened to the sample I knew I'd love this audiobook.
This was right up my street. Great story and wonderfully put together.
Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah Morley
  • 01-18-21

Incredible

Haunting, Fascinating and so much more than I had anticipated. There is a fantasy element but it leans to more of a thriller / horror.

l am so glad l decided to consume this book by audio because the narration really added to the depth of the characters and honestly made it more spooky than it would have been if I'd have physically read it.

I can recommend this book to anyone!

The best book I've consumed for a long time.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-19-20

creepy but brilliant

it takes a while to get going but once it does its brilliant. would definitely recommend

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 09-07-22

Atmospheric and creepy story.

A great story, well narrated. A tale that slowly and effectively ramps up the tension until you know it all.

The only minor negative is that I want to know more - what happened with the sleeper and the information that wasn't destroyed?!

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Audible is the VERY BEST app there is!💯🙌🏽❤️
  • Audible is the VERY BEST app there is!💯🙌🏽❤️
  • 08-04-22

Wow😱what an AMAZING book!Cassandra was OUTSTANDING😱💯👏🏽

Brilliant amount book! Huge well done to Jennifer💯💯💯👏🏽 REALLY creepy, the narrator Cassandra made this book ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I really don’t know if another narrator could have done this as good, she was OUTSTANDING 👏🏽👏🏽 can’t rate this book highly enough, I highly highly recommend this, get it and you won’t be disappointed!💯🤗 thank you for an AMAZING book and read absolutely BRILLIANT! 💯💯💯👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽❤️xxxx

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss James
  • 10-18-22

Loosing sleep

Its been a long time since a book kept me up past my bedtime! This is an easy listen. Fast enough to hold my interest but well build story line and levels of mystery.

I noticed that the seemingly only poc was a negative character however im hoping this was just an indication of the time it was set and not an intended statement from the author.

Overall i enjoyed and will go listen to more from this author

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  • rohannah
  • 09-30-22

I loved it!

I loved this story and the narration was really easy to listen to and fit really well with the story and characters. I feel like listening to the story through Audible gave the characters more depth and the story more atmospheric. It has me gripped and listening more and more each day. I wish the story would go on!

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  • Cathie grainger
  • 03-17-21

Poor plot.

One of the worst books I have heard. Badly developed plot. Implausible ending. Do not bother