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The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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West Hall has always been a town of strange disappearances and legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found murdered in the field behind her house in 1908, a few short months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie, drove her mad. People say that Sara's ghost still walks after dark, and some leave offerings on their doorstep to keep her from entering their homes uninvited.

Now, in present day, Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they remain on the fringes, living off the land without internet or outside interference. But one morning Ruthie wakes up to find that Alice has disappeared without a trace. When she searches the house for clues, she is startled to find a secret compartment beneath the floorboards that contains two objects. One, a gun. And two, a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary.

The story the diary tells is one of a mother skating on the edge of sanity, willing to do whatever she can to bring her daughter back even if it means dabbling in dark and dangerous territory. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's death, she discovers that she's not the only one looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
West Hall has always been a town of strange disappearances and legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found murdered in the field behind her house in 1908, a few short months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie, drove her mad. People say that Sara's ghost still walks after dark, and some leave offerings on their doorstep to keep her from entering their homes uninvited.

Now, in present day, Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they remain on the fringes, living off the land without internet or outside interference. But one morning Ruthie wakes up to find that Alice has disappeared without a trace. When she searches the house for clues, she is startled to find a secret compartment beneath the floorboards that contains two objects. One, a gun. And two, a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary.

The story the diary tells is one of a mother skating on the edge of sanity, willing to do whatever she can to bring her daughter back even if it means dabbling in dark and dangerous territory. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's death, she discovers that she's not the only one looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

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Categories:Book Excerpts
Published by: Random House of Canada on Jan 21, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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1
Visitors from the Other Side
The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea 
From an introduction by the editor, Amelia Larkin
My beloved aunt, Sara Harrison Shea, was brutally murdered in the winter of 1908. She was thirty- one years old.Shortly after her death, I gathered all of the diary pages and  journals I was able to locate, pulling them out of dozens of clever hiding places throughout her house. She understood the danger these pages put her in.It then became my task, over the next year, to organize the entries and shape them into a book. I embraced the opportunity, as I soon realized that the story these pages tell could change everything we think we understand about life and death.I also contend that the most important entries, the ones with the most shocking secrets and revelations, were contained in the final pages of her diary, written only hours before her death.Those pages have not yet been found.I have taken no liberties when transcribing these entries; they are not embellished or changed in any way. I believe that, as fantasti-cal as the story my aunt tells may be, it is indeed fact, not fiction. My aunt, contrary to popular belief, was of sound mind.
 
Visitors from the Other Side
The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea 
 January 29, 1908 
The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.It was the spring before Papa sent Auntie away— before we lost my brother, Jacob. My sister, Constance, had married the fall before and moved to Graniteville.I was up exploring in the woods, near the Devil’s Hand, where Papa had forbidden us to play. The trees were leafing out, making a lush green canopy overhead. The sun had warmed the soil, giv-ing the damp woods a rich, loamy smell. Here and there beneath the beech, sugar maple, and birch trees were spring flowers: tril-liums, trout lilies, and my favorite, jack- in- the- pulpit, a funny little flower with a secret: if you lift the striped hood, you’ll find the preacher underneath. Auntie had shown me this, and taught me that you could dig up the tubers and cook them like turnips. I had  just found one and was pulling back the hood, looking for the tiny figure underneath, when I heard footsteps, slow and steady, moving my way. Heavy feet dragging through the dry leaves, stumbling on roots. I wanted to run, but froze with panic, having squatted down low behind a rock just as a figure moved into the clearing.I recognized her at once— Hester Jameson.She’d died two weeks before from typhoid fever. I had attended her funeral with Papa and Jacob, seen her laid to rest in the cemetery behind the church up by Cranberry Meadow. Everyone from school was there, all in Sunday best.

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