Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Winter People” as Want to Read:
The Winter People
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Winter People

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  50,492 ratings  ·  6,825 reviews
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.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice ha
Paperback, 462 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Anchor Books (first published 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Winter People, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Anna B I really like this one.

Even though the plot is formulaic, there's a universal theme that has me under a hypnotic hold. The supernatural and ghost asp…more
I really like this one.

Even though the plot is formulaic, there's a universal theme that has me under a hypnotic hold. The supernatural and ghost aspect to this story is gripping, but the magnetic pull is the inconsolable grief and deep sorrow of the protagonist who will do anything to "be" with her daughter.

The author is a master at plot pacing. Her ninja-like somersaults from one POV to another is remarkable. She does this so well, that it's like watching a well-edited movie that fades in and out of scenes. (less)
Arwen Mellor No, only in winter when you can feel the cold and snow surrounding you in your safe warm home, an uneasy embrace of security against the creeping horr…moreNo, only in winter when you can feel the cold and snow surrounding you in your safe warm home, an uneasy embrace of security against the creeping horror that may lie without.

Of course it can be read any time.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  50,492 ratings  ·  6,825 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Winter People
For me the difference between a 4-star book and a 5-star book is usually the ending- and Jennifer McMahon's THE WINTER PEOPLE lost a star in the final pages...but a 4-star read is nothing to complain about. This was a spooooooky, creepy tale that had me flipping the pages regardless of a weeeeeee bit of disappointment with its conclusion.

 photo winteruse7_zpsrxmfpfte.jpg

January 29, 1908 West Hall, Vermont:

The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea- The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old. I recognized her at once- He
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In 1908, Sara Harrison Shea's daughter died under very tragic circumstances.

Unsurprisingly, Sara is racked by grief and unable to move forward. She would do anything to bring her daughter back.

In the present, Ruthie's mom has gone missing. It seems she simply walked out of their house, into the surrounding Vermont woods, and disappeared.

With no note, and no signs of a struggle, Ruthie is forced to care for her creepy little sister whilst investigating the mystery of her mother's s
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
4.5 stars

West Hall, Vermont is a town where people go missing without explanation. This remote small town has it secrets and wants to keep it that way. The most mysterious secret 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. Skip to the present day where 19 year old Ruthie returns home to find her Mother, Alice, missing. Ruthie, her Mother and her Younger sister, Fawn, have been living in the
This is the quintessential Halloween read. It checks all of the required boxes - spooky, atmospheric, dark, eerie and full of old legends.

West Hall, Vermont is a little town with big history. There's no doubt in my mind, I would have hightailed it out of there; forget about uncovering the truth. I've watched way too many horror movies to be nosing around the woods or some creepy town looking for answers.

There’s a local legend surrounding a rock formation, a desolate farmhouse and a woman that w
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Seriously people..these characters need to read more Stephen King. If they had read "Pet Sematary" they would have known that you just don't mess around trying to bring back the dead.

Granted, Mr. King wasn't around writing in the 1800's that some parts of this book took place.
I liked the older bits of the story more than the present day setting. One reason is because Ruthie really did not come across as realistic to me. I mean damn-a 19 year old girl with a curfew? Several things she did an
Amalia Gkavea
"Sometimes they're angry. They hate being stuck."

This was one of my most anticipated scheduled reads for the year. It felt appropriate for the beginning of the winter, since November calls for stories with supernatural twists. The title and the front cover set the scenery. This proved to be a story rich in atmosphere, local lore and with an engaging plot line. And it was also an example of how fast can a certain 5-stars read become a 3 within 120 pages...In my opinion...

The story follows two
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon (Author), Cassandra Campbell (Narrator), Käthe Mazur (Narrator)

For the first half of the book, I was hooked on the story, gory as it was for both humans and animals. Little West Hall, Vermont seems to be stuck in the past with the town barely changing for the last century. Nineteen year old Ruthie lives with her six year old sister, Fern, and their mother, Alice, in the same old farmhouse that was home to Sara Harrison Shea, long ago. Sara was at the center
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon is a 2014 Doubleday publication.

It’s that time of year when I find myself in the mood for a creepy tale of horror. Normally, I pull out an old favorite, like Peter Straub’s ‘Ghost Story’ or perhaps something by Poe, but this year I went in search of something new, or at least new to me.

This book grabbed my attention because it did not appear to fit into the typical ‘slasher’ style horror trope, and seemed to promise me a chilling, atmospheric tale that did
Patrice Hoffman
Every once in a while you're just in the mood for a good ghost story. A story that involves a small town desperately trying to keep its secrets, myths, and folklore hidden. These type of stories are always set in remote areas where they breed new life with every passing generation. These myths become fantastical whereas aspects of the truth are distorted to make an even more engrossing tale of why there are "sleepers" roaming the forrests.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon is gripping novel a
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Talk about CREEP FACTOR. This book was super spooky. Had a hard time putting it down. Highly recommend!
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 shivering stars! Well that was one heck of a spooky good read!

Why I wanted to read this one……I have read quite a few JENNIFER MCMAHON novels and although it has been a little while since I have read one I do remember really enjoying them so when I found this novel while perusing Overdrive I quickly borrowed it. What initially attracted me to this book was that beautiful cover and I found the title very intriguing as well which definitely enticed me to pick this one up!

Thoughts & what it's all
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn about rating this book. I absolutely blew through it--from start to finish in just about a day--both because the narrative is propulsive but also because I wanted to know what was going to happen.

The book is very wonderfully a small-town ghost story, told from multiple points of view from two different eras. You know what sort of monsters you're dealing with almost immediately: "sleepers," or people who have been recalled from the dead by people who miss them. If you are drawing parall
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
This is going to be so hard for me to rate. I was really engrossed for much of the story and I was sure I had a solid four-star book in my hands. There were even some five-star worthy scenes. But then it started dipping dangerously into that two-star area... For the most part it was a good, solid, read, but there were just some things I didn't like. At times I wished that the author had gone a different direction and there were two characters in particular that didn't ring true to me when all wa ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 - One aspect of the ending was a tiny letdown, but overall I ADORED this. So unique and unsettling. I'll have a spoiler free video review up next week :)
Diane S ☔
Beautiful cover, enticing title especially with the winter we are having. Hooked me from the very beginning, two young girls, Ruth and Fern, wonderful inquisitive characters, really wanted to find out what happened. Built of suspense, a little creepiness, exactly what is going on in this town and where has their mother gone? What about the dreams Ruth keeps having, what are they supposed to mean? Really wanted to know, kept reading and then plunk. Even in a book about the impossible, or so I hop ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two stories, happening about 100 years apart, told in parallel - and that’s not all they have in common. A good ghost story - won’t scare you, subtle chills - overall well written, I thought.
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
West Hall, Vermont 1908. Sara Harrison Shea is found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. She has been acted weirdly since then and her death is horrifying.

In the present day is nineteen-year-old Ruthie living in Sara's old farmhouse with her mother Alice and her younger sister. They have always lived a very simple life, farming what they need staying away from the modern world as much as possible. When Alice comes home late one night can she s
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Tell me, Auntie, please," I begged, "can the dead come back?"

I had a snow day off from work a few weeks ago, and I spent the entire day reading this novel. It's one of those books that had me completely mesmerized at the time, but now that many days have past, I keep wondering . . . was it really that good, or was the wintry, chilling atmosphere helped along by the fact that there were inches of white stuff piling up against my door as I read?

It was when she was on her way back out of the clear
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“There are worse things than death. Far worse.”

I decided to check out The Winter People last week when it was freeeeeeeeeezing outside. Of course, by the time I got around to reading it the temps were more like Spring because why have one season when you can have them all in the same week?

The story here is set in West Hall, Vermont – or, more specifically, a location known as “Devil’s Hand” – apparently named as such due to a rock
Deep in the Vermont woods in West Hall, one can find the Devil's Hand, a conglomeration of rocks that resemble the fingers on a very large hand. Nearby, there is an orchard that produces bitter malformed fruit. In West Hall, there are a lot of ghost stories and legends, albeit with very few solid facts to back up the frightening tales of children gone missing.

This is a fine ghost story, deftly weaving mysterious happenings between 1908 and present day. With a focus on the power the dead have ov
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second book by this author and once again it is a mystery thriller / ghost story. For those interested in a direct comparison, *here* is my review for the other book. However, I have to admit that this one was creepier for me.

Just like in the first book, we get different timelines that spiral towards one another, circling closer and closer until we get to the center of it all, the resolution.

The core of this story is a small town in Vermont where there have been numerous weird deaths
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This deliciously scary tale of conjuring up the dead is the perfect book for a stormy, cold winter's night. If you happen to live in New England your double charmed.

That being said there's more here than meets the eye. Jennifer McMahon takes an age old question and puts her own spin on it in The Winter People. If one of your loved ones died what would you do to bring them back to you, even if only for a short time? Think of the possibilities of how this might help your grieving. However, also c
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disappointing
Silly me. I believed all the hype and was expecting a real chiller of a ghost story. What I got was an inane tale rife with clueless characters. Knuckleheads who opt to take a 5-hour drive to check out a completely iffy lead instead of doing a simple Google search. Who lack all common sense (Uh oh, these papers need to be destroyed or they could alter the fate of all mankind. Let’s keep them in one piece and toss them into this old dry well.) Stephen King already wrote the definitive piece on th ...more
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014, ghosts, horror
A super-creepy ghost story full of mystery and suspense. Definitely a page-turner I would recommend if (view spoiler) ...more
MaryannC. Book Freak
A totally awesome and creepy book! My book light bit the dust one night and I read some of this by small flashlight and let me tell you it gave me the heebie-jeebies. I am not usually a horror fan, but this was pretty damn good!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

Note: this review was changed from 2016.

This novel was my first time reading Jennifer McMahon and the book that started it all. I originally gave this a 4 star review but have modified it to 5 on account of the fact that I haven’t stopped thinking about it even now, 2 years later, and recommending it to everyone.

This book was freaky AF and I don’t recommend reading it in the dark.... and especially not alone in the dark. I loved THE WINTER PEOPLE and if you like books that have a
Bam cooks the books ;-)
This book is an eerie ghost story that deftly weaves together past and present. It begins with the secret diary of Sara Harrison Shea of West Hall, Vermont, written in the winter of 1908, just before she was brutally murdered.
Sara tells of her life, the man she married, the babies they lost before little Gertie was born. She is understandably quite attached to Gertie, who is a different sort of child. One morning she tells her mother about a dream she had where she rode on the back of a blue dog
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
The Winter People is one of the scariest books I have read in a long, long time. Many times I could feel my heart racing and my mouth dropping open. It feels good to read a book that sucks you in and keeps you there until you finish. I checked this out at the library on a Thursday afternoon and here it is Saturday night and I'm done. I'll be passing it off to my mom. Kinda thankful it will be out of my house! Seriously, this story is dark one.
Tayari Jones
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this is Jennifer McMahon's best novel yet. I read the entire thing on an overseas flight. I didn't even watch the free movies, preferring to read.

I was really drawn into the plot-- both the current day story of a mother who vanishes one day; and the story in the past where a grieving mother brings her dead child back to life. I was impressed with the way the two stories came together at the end.

For me, this story has just the right amount of creepiness. It wasn't so gory that I w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions 2 16 Apr 01, 2019 01:16PM  
Horror Aficionados : January 2019 Group Read-THE WINTER PEOPLE 79 313 Feb 14, 2019 07:32PM  
Around the Year i...: The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon 11 102 Jan 20, 2019 01:29PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Home Before Dark
  • The Sun Down Motel
  • The Twisted Ones
  • Lock Every Door
  • The Family Upstairs
  • The Turn of the Key
  • The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
  • The Whisper Man
  • Survivor Song
  • Imaginary Friend
  • Mexican Gothic
  • The Shadows
  • A Head Full of Ghosts
  • One by One
  • The Broken Girls
  • The Haunting of Ashburn House
  • The Hunger
  • The Only Good Indians
See similar books…
I'm the author of nine suspense novels, including Promise Not to Telll, The Winter People, and most recently, The Invited. I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.

Articles featuring this book

Genres can be defined by what's waiting around the corner. In a romance book, it's happily ever after; in a mystery novel, it's the...
114 likes · 90 comments
“If snow melts down to water, does it still remember being snow?” 46 likes
“Madness is always a wonderful excuse, don’t you think? For doing terrible things to other people.” 33 likes
More quotes…