Rating: 2/5 Stars
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.
When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.
I received this book as a Christmas present and had just gotten around to reading it know since it was a thriller, yet it was short enough for me to finish it in a day or two. After reading the synopsis, it sounded like the perfect book, right? And there are amazing reviews by other famous authors as well. So this sounds like the perfect short read for me, but I was wayyyyyy wrong.
First off, no where does the book state that it is set in the 1800’s era. I was under the impression that it would be set in the now time, not the past. But when I began reading it, I just assumed that it would flash forward to the future times, and how the mystery occurred, but again I was wrong.
The characters were completely flat and two dimensional, and Lukavics’ world building leaves a lot to be desired. Her language choices felt forced (there are only so many instances of characters referring to each other as ‘sister’ or ‘daughter’ a reader should ever have to take), and instead of building a time and place through her prose, she instead chose to use a superficially tacky form of ‘Ye Olde Englishe’ to let us know it was set in the past.
‘Last Winter’ was mentioned constantly through the novel, with very little information given as to what actually happened. When we do find out, it turns out that Lukavics seems to know very little about the spread of infection or mental health in confined spaces. She’s given her novel a religious overtone, and yet not chosen to go anywhere with it other than having her characters sing hymns and reference the devil. Now I do know a bit about history and stuff, but I don’t exactly enjoy reading about it as a mystery, unless its one of the more famous mystery authors, or a YA novel like all the other books that I read.
This whole book needed a lot more development. There was the potential for a frightening and fascinating novel in there somewhere, but there was simply not enough character exploration and world building. Lukavics certainly had the space to do it; the novel was short and the text was extra large to give it the appearance of a normal sized novel.
The only reason intrigued by this book was because I had read amazing reviews about it on Goodreads, so I had to get it and see for myself this amazing piece of fiction that everyone raved about. Now it is up to your own views. You can either follow what people say, or you can go out and buy it for yourself. But be warned, read a chapter or two before hand so you can get a better understand as to what the book is about.
-Read On Darlings!