This is our final week of reading and discussing Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People. Thank you so much to everyone who read The Winter People with us this month, and a huge thanks to Audra for guest hosting the readalong with us!
The Ladies of Horror Fiction team has come up with some discussion questions, and we’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
1. What are your overall thoughts of The Winter People?
Tracy: The book started out great! The first section we read was my favorite. After that, it was all downhill for me.
Lilyn: It was an okay read. I thought the first half was much stronger than the second half.
Audra: I loved the setup of the story. The multiple storylines and characters were interesting and the mystery was intriguing in the first half, but as it unraveled, I felt that the story didn’t deliver on its promise.
Toni: Just like everyone else I thought that it started really strong and I was really into it. By the end I wasn’t.
Laurie: I had really high hopes for The Winter People. The atmosphere was set up very well and the story set in 1908 was extremely creepy but in the end there were too many extraneous threads thrown in that cluttered up the creepy for me and I didn’t feel they needed to be included. I would’ve been happy to read just the events that took place in the past. The current day storyline didn’t work all that well for me.
Alex: The book started out super creepy to me and had such mystery! Midway through I DID start to get a little disconnected from the story as the multiple storylines were overlapping. I didnt dislike that, but it took away from the horror vibes and put me in more of a thriller situation. I think the premise of the story is great, though! Cat: I adored the beginning! It was so full of promise, a potential all-time favourite, but the more I read, the more I questioned certain plot decisions. You know when you just have to declare to the person sitting next to you “that’s really stupid!” even when they have no idea what you’re talking about? Yeah, that happened.
Jen: I thought there were some great creepy moments in The Winter People. There was also a lot going on which didn’t come together quite how I had hoped.
2. How do you feel about Auntie’s character arc?
Tracy: I feel like, again, she started out strong but then became something I’ve seen before.
Audra: I didn’t see it coming, but I also feel like it doesn’t really make that much sense. It felt to me like the author was just trying to go with the most unexpected character, but without really setting up the narrative to support it.
Toni: I am pretty irritated with Auntie’s character arc. I don’t feel like the Auntie’s arc really made a lot of sense. Again the setup was good but by the end I was just irrirated.
Laurie: This is my main issue with the book. It added in too many threads and the characterization got short-changed. We needed to see more of Auntie and her thoughts and know her more intimately to fully buy into her thought processes at the end.
Alex: I thought auntie was a sick and twisted B! I just wanted a little more development than an “a-ha! Gotcha!” Type surprise/rushed ending.
Cat: I disliked Auntie’s story. It’s one of the things that didn’t make much sense to me.
Jen: I have trouble getting behind Auntie’s revenge. What else could Sara have done? I don’t feel it’s believable for Auntie to place blame to that degree toward Sara. I think that’s why we didn’t see it coming.
3. Were you satisfied with the ending?
Tracy: No. She stayed to watch over the girl that was not hers in order to save other people? It didn’t feel true to Ruthie for me.
Lilyn: Not really, but there was so much going on in the story I’m not sure she could have wrapped it up much better.
Audra: I was not.
Toni: Nope, I wasn’t satistfied. It felt like McMahon was trying to pack too much in and the ending let the book down.
Laurie: Not really no. I was a bit disappointed with the last half of the book.
Alex: I wasnt. But that doesn’t mean it wasnt good, either. I didnt like how “the watch” continues. I felt bad for the characters having to end this way.
Cat: The teenager that wanted nothing but freedom to decide to confine herself to such a responsibility? The little monster eats people for goodness sake. Ruthie should have taken Fawn and fled.
Jen: I think if things had felt more believable/inevitable, it would have come together better for me.
4. Would you have made the same choice to care for Gertie?
Tracy: NO. If she were my actual daughter, yes.
Lilyn: As Sara did? Yes. My kid, my responsibility. I couldn’t put her down after I brought her back. As Ruthie guarding the place? I don’t know.Probably not. Zombie kids would be haunting my dreams.
Audra: I don’t really think the characters explored any other potential options, which would have been more interesting.
Toni: That is a great question. I don’t know to be honest. I don’t think she gave the characters any other choice.
Laurie: If I were rebellious and angry Ruthie? No way. Again, it comes down to characterization. This was another turn that didn’t feel genuine to me. As for Sara? Yes, that made sense.
Alex: Hells to the no! Lock her in a steel box, throw chains around it, and dump it in the middle of the ocean. Aint nobody got time to take care of undead kids that arent even theirs!
Cat: If it were my own child, yes, otherwise I wouldn’t. “None of my business” is a suitable excuse, I think.
Jen: I don’t know what I would have done in Ruthie’s place, but I certainly don’t think Ruthie was given a good enough reason to stay.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from the last section of The Winter People:
And, as in all fairy tales, there was bloodshed, there was loss.
But all it takes is one look at the hollow, hungry eyes of the thing that once was my little girl to know there are worse things than death.
Do you have any favorite quotes from this section? We would love for you to share them!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to hashtag us on social media at #LOHFReadalong so we can join in and share!