Marianne's Reviews > Wintering

Wintering by Krissy Kneen
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it was amazing

“She felt the calm of the cave as soon as she stepped through the unmarked entrance. The air felt different in here. Colder, damper. Still. There was a silence as if she was holding a seashell up to each ear, a silence filled with the pulse of heart, the whoosh of blood.
She waited till her eyes adjusted. Closed them, counted to ten, lifted her chin and opened her eyes to the universe unfurled above. Her tiny, miraculous larval galaxy...
The first cave was the largest. There was one of the biggest colonies of glow-worms in the world clustered here, dangling their sticky threads from the rocks above. She waited till the silence dissolved and the sounds of the world returned to her, the constant trickle of the creek, the drip of moisture. Her heart quietened.”

Wintering is the fifth novel by prize-winning Australian bookseller, poet and author, Krissy Kneen. After eight years in the far south of Tasmania, thirty-year-old Jessica Weir has finally completed her PhD research. When not tucked away in her cave gathering data on her glow worms, or guiding tours of the caves, or writing articles for Science Weekly, she’s with Matthew Masterton in their little shack at Southport.

Matthew cooks, makes home brew, smokes salmon, and is her contact with the town. But one night, Matthew is late home from work. Jessica wakes in the early hours, certain there’s a wild animal in the house, then answers a phone call from the Police who have found his mobile in his abandoned vehicle. Of Matthew, there is no sign.

A clip on Matthew’s phone shows an encounter with a creature that could be animal or human. Because of Matthew, Jessica has had minimal contact with the local community, but now a group of rather quirky local women count her among their number, all having one thing in common: their husbands were taken by the elusive Tasmanian tiger.

As Jessica progresses through worry, confusion, loneliness and grief, she catches snippets about Matthew that have her wondering if she really knew him at all.

Kneen latest offering has an original plot with twists and surprises that will keep readers guessing right up to the dramatic climax. Whether there’s a touch of paranormal, or whether certain strange occurrences can be explained by natural phenomena (hallucinations, tricks of light, strong emotions), the result is engrossing and thought-provoking. Her descriptive prose is exquisite: “She had picked a shell out of the sand, thin as skin stretched tight, brittle, a warm cup of sunlight” and she evokes her setting with consummate skill.


Kneen’s protagonist is a single-minded, nature-focussed young woman with some slightly skewed priorities. Despite her intelligence, her unusual upbringing leaves her vulnerable, and the initial hints of domestic violence and psychological abuse later prove true. Kneen easily conveys Jessica’s feelings and emotions: “Her freezers would be close to full. She should stop fishing for a while, but the thought of it made her chest clench. That simple activity. Dawn and dusk, dragging the boat into the water, dropping the net. Moments of relief in her unbearable days.”

In the author’s acknowledgements, there is mention of a film version, something that would be anticipated with interest by readers of this marvellous novel.
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Reading Progress

May 2, 2018 – Shelved
May 2, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 31, 2018 – Started Reading
September 1, 2018 –
page 157
60.15%
September 2, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by D.M. (new)

D.M. Cameron Looking forward to this one. It sounds right up my alley.


message 2: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire I'm very interested in this one now. I'll also be linking the review in the AWW spec fiction round-up on wednesday :-)


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