Published by Touchstone on February 5, 2019
Buy on Amazon
In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.
Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.
In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.
As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.
The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?
The Winter Sister is one of those books that I read on a whim. It was gifted to me by a coworker so I felt like I had to give it a shot. While it was far from bad, it lacked anything unique enough to really capture my interest. For a thriller, it was rather slow paced and honestly, there wasn’t anything all that thrilling about this one.
The most flawed aspect of The Winter Sister are the characters. It’s hard to find a single character in this book that readers might care about. Sylvie has spent her whole life punishing herself for what she believes was her role in her sister’s murder. Her mother has spent her whole life drinking to drown the sorrow of losing her eldest daughter. Ben Emory, Persephone’s boyfriend at the time of her murder, is almost so perfect that it makes it hard to like him. Persephone played such a small role in the story that I never felt connected to her or the people she left behind when she died. Her personality failed to come across at all in the scenes she was in. Obviously I felt bad that she was murdered but it didn’t really go much further than that.
Sylvie was such a martyr type. She felt like it was her fault that Persephone was killed and she spent 16 years torturing herself because of that. She didn’t let herself love anyone or find her own passion in life. As her aunt put it, she “floated” through life and she kinda floated through the book. She never really became someone I cared about. I felt like she was such a lackluster person. She was so willing to spend her life in her sister’s shadow. She didn’t stand up to her mom, her boss, anyone. She was so consumed with Persephone’s death and she was blinded by it most of the time. She had these perceptions about people and she was so set in her ways that she refused to look past those perceptions to see the real person. She was that way with Ben Emory, his father, Will Emory, their neighbor, Tommy Dent, and even her own mother. There were so many times I just wanted to bang her head into a wall to help her see some reason.
The plot was extremely slow. From the moment I started reading The Winter Sister, I was bored. I admit, I was reading some other books at the same time so my attention wasn’t fully invested in this one but that was only a small part of why I couldn’t get into this story. Not only was it slow, it was so far from original. I felt like I’ve seen this story played out so many times and I don’t even think I was halfway through the book when I figured out not only who did it but why they did it. The characters in this story were so blind to what was right in front of them.
The writing is probably the only thing that redeemed The Winter Sister and made it worth finishing for me. Megan Collins did a wonderful job telling this story and making it easy for me to picture every sentence of it in my head. It’s rare to find a thriller that reads more like literary fiction but this is one.
Overall, The Winter Sister was so disappointing to me. If you’re new to thrillers and suspense novels, you may be able to find some joy in this one. However, if you’re like me and you read these quite frequently, I fear you’ll find yourself reading something you’ve already read before and something you will find extremely dull.
what others are saying about The Winter Sister:
Novel Visits’ review: “Yes, it has sort of a typical plot for a suspense novel, but I don’t read a lot of that genre, so for me it was unique enough.”
Cultured Vultures’ review: “Collins’ prose is so visually stirring that it fills my mind like a well-laboured canvas, which is apt considering Sylvie’s role as an artist.”
if you liked The Winter Sister, you might also like: