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In the Winter Dark

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  661 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Night falls. In a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jaccob sees a moving shadow. Across the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the verandah of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will ever b ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Pan MacMillan (first published 1988)
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Dewey by Vicki MyronThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. EliotAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollTailchaser's Song by Tad Williams
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271st out of 979 books — 544 voters
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55th out of 86 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

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B the BookAddict

In the Winter Dark harks of economy. It is a mere slip of a book, a novella; set in one place and with only four characters. The vivid imagery is placed with an amazing economy of words. Tension rises in sometimes two sentences and the climax erupts in a couple of words. Everything happens in one place called the Sink and when you read about it, you find you sink into it.

Four neighbours on bush properties, they all have chosen to live in the Sink for their own private reasons. Stubbs, his wife

I do love Tim Winton's writing: taut prose, lots of atmosphere and a strong sense of place. However, this novella is early Winton and not really up to the standard of the best of his later work. The excellent prose is there, as is the connection to the environment. There's not a lot of character development, though, and the plot, as suspenseful as it is, wasn't as compelling as I would have liked.

Still, less-than-spectacular Tim Winton is a lot better than the best that many other novelists hav
Tim Winton’s “In the Winter Dark” is the fourth of his novels, sandwiched between “That Eye, That Sky” (1986) and his breakout novel, “Cloudstreet” (1991). It is a short piece—110 pages in the Picador edition—that has all of the seeds that will sprout to characterize Winton’s future production. Those characteristics include a prose that is crisp, taut, sparse and engaging; careful description of the physical environment—in this case the isolated, rural landscape of Western Australia—that is as i ...more
This is an earlier Winton and am unsure about it. I have generally liked most of his works but this one leaves me unsure. It was good, interesting and I wanted to keep reading but I still don't really know how to make sense of it?? I don't mind that the ending was never really CLEAR as that often happens with Winton books but I just found that I had no real explanation for it. As usual his characters are easy to get to know and to like and they are all built well but I thought the story-line was ...more
In the Winter Dark is not a story to read if you desire a certain amount of closure when it comes to stories about mysterious beasts stalking the countryside, nor is it one for lovers of gore. But it was a very interesting story which I read through rather quickly.

I've never read anything by Winton before, he seems to be capable of conveying what is going on with very few words. And I never felt any of the story was rushed or incomplete. Truth be told, I usually steer clear of Australian author
Hannah Louey

Tim Winton is basically a superstar in terms of Australian literary history. Every time he writes a book, the Miles Franklin judges are practically like ‘Oh, Tim, just take the award. Just take it!’ If this were high school (and we lived in America), Tim Winton would be the cool, drama kid who reluctantly accepts the award of prom king, after turning up to the event as an ironic statement about the bourgeoisie society that we live in.

Essentially, Tim Winto
One of Australian author Tim Winton's most intriguing tales is this short novella, set in an isolated valley known as the Sink. There are only four characters in this book--two men and two women. Through their harrowing experiences, the question is raised, which is more dangerous--the outside world or what lies within us?

The novella opens with Maurice Stubbs, an older man who has lived in the valley with his wife Ida for many years. When the novella opens, the horror is already over, but Maurice
Meg Shooter
'In the Winter Dark' is my favourite Winton novel. It conjures the Australian Landscape like no other book. It's spooky undertones will never leave you once you've entered into the winter.
In The Winter Dark is gothic literature at its best. The four main characters, Ida, Maurice, Ronnie and Jaccob all have their inner fears and regrets which haunt them at every turn. This inward fear is portrayed as a physical being, 'the cat', which Maurice is determined to kill. Their isolation from society forces them to collaborate as neighbours to solve the mystery. In The Winter Dark has many underlying themes to it, which make it a great book to study and comprehend. I definitely recommend ...more
Good sense of place, a haunting story.
★ Jess
Dear Aspiring Indie Film-Maker

You've done a couple of short-films, full of quirky characters and mildly-amusing scripts. You want to kick-start your career and be noticed. Well, I have a suggestion. In the Winter Dark. Tim Winton is possibly the most loved Australian author, yet this is the book that No One Knows Exists. Adapt it.
Take a break from your light hearted/short films/dark comedies, and put this 130 page novel to the big screen.
There are only four characters to worry about. Maurice
Bronwyn Rykiert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
quotes#776268 from my notebook of quotes

You get that big church feeling up there in the forest. We were running out of fuel early this winter, so I took the chainsaw with me to feel like I was working and not just farting about. I dawdled the ute along the muddy tracks in the broken light looking for windfalls. It didn't take long to spot a toppled tree. I stopped and got out. The wind sounded like a choir way above. I grabbed the axe from the rear tray, picked my way through the undergrowth wit
The one thing you can pretty much count on is that people who choose to live in isolated areas, if not completely alone but with few neighbours with whom they rarely socialise, is that they'll have one or two things they really, really don't want to talk about. This novella was written in 1988 and filmed ten years later, on the cheap from all accounts but it's got its fans, not that it really needs a big budget; apart from one short trip into what passes for the local town all the action takes p ...more
I had to read this novella straight through to find out what happened, and while some questions were answered some remain tantalisingly out of reach - I'm not sure I like that. Extremely atmospheric, this Sink, and very easy to read.

Rated 7/10 at
This is my first ever Tim Winton novel, the characters were well rounded, the setting was evoked brilliantly and the plot was interesting. Loved it! A good read that acknowledges guilt, grief and isolation of heart and landscape and how the two can be inextricably linked. Well done Mr Winton
Emma Makes
Nobody does tension and suspense like Tim Winton - this book skipped along and was a thoroughly enjoyable read in Mr Winton's usual well-crafted language.

The group of four characters were relate-able, well-crafted and believable. Having grown up in a rural area, the setting was true and the story something that I wanted to return to at once, so I ended up reading this in a day.

I enjoyed the snippets and clues of narrative that wove into the main story and brought a depth and interest.

A great rea
The storyline was something different from what I thought it would be ... Certainly the blurb on the back makes you think it's one thing ... I enjoyed the read ... Setting .... And characters ...
Karen Mace
First time i've read Tim Winton and i was unsure as to what i'd make of this story but it had a great mix of mystery, horror and intrigue to keep me turning each page. great short story that i'd recommend
We had to read this for a course at uni. I understand the brilliance in the writing and the technique, but the story just isn't for me. I never made it to the end.
Bristol Bookworm
A brief novella of a book which haunts the imagination. Blog post here.
Dorthe Conlon
Didn't like this much. Made me want to know what was going on - but the answers stayed frustratingly out of reach. And I just didn't like the characters.
Ilyhana Kennedy
This is a small but well executed novel. The parallel themes of haunting memory and a night hunting mystery creature work well to intensify the suspense.
Not Winton's best but interesting psychological studies of somewhat archetypal characters. Nevertheless lends itself to psychoanalytical reading.
An odd one, not entirely sure what I've just read. Very atmospheric but open to interpretation.
Steve M
Brief but a thing of dark beauty together with a dollop of cranked up tension.
Chaiwat Moonuan
Couldn't stop reading for last 50 pages.
Wanted to read this book for so long and it took me ages to get it at a 'sensible price'. Dealers were asking stupid prices just for a paperback and I refused to pay them. But, thankfully supplies must be getting better cos I got one in the end for 5.50 - cheaper than the likes of even Waterstones (who btw couldn't supply even though they advertise it for sale!)
Well, the book did not disappoint - brilliant prose, brilliant story and - unusually for some of Winton's books - a clear ending...excel
An area named 'The Sink' is the homeplace for 3 separate households who take pleasure in their personal independence until disaster strikes. Magical, mysterious memories of death resurface as a pet and many farm animals are discovered death. Perhaps, someone else can make better sense of the insular nature of these residents, I found it a lot strange.
Theresa Smith
Winton has an ability to strip humanity back to the bare bones exposing what lies inside deep beneath the surface. This book was a classic example of Winton at his best, showing us the sides of humanity we like to fool ourselves about. Not quite a novel but more than a story, if you've never read a Tim Winton book then this is a good place to start.
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Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the small country town of Albany.

While a student at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer. It went on to win The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, and launched his writing career. In fact, he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows
More about Tim Winton...
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