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Mind of Winter by Laura KasischkeTitle: Mind of Winter
Author: Laura Kasischke
ISBN: 9780062284396
No. of Pages: 288
Genre: Thriller
Origins: HarperCollins
Release Date: 25 March 2014
Bottom Line: Stunning and suspenseful

“The critically acclaimed and bestselling author of The Raising returns with a haunting and shadowy thriller about the love between a mother and daughter.

Something had followed them from Russia.

On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens, the fragments of a nightmare—something so important that she must write it down—floating on the edge of her consciousness.

Something had followed them from Russia.

It was thirteen years ago that she and her husband, Eric, went to Siberia to adopt the sweet, dark-haired child they had wanted so desperately. How they laughed at the nurses of Pokrovka Orphanage #2 with their garlic and superstitions, and ignored their insistent warnings. After all, their fairy princess Tatiana—Baby Tatty—was perfect.

As the snow falls, enveloping the world in its white silence, Holly senses that something is not right, and has never been right in the years since they brought their daughter home. Now Tatty is a dangerously beautiful, petulant, and often erratic teenager, and Holly feels there is something evil lurking within their house.

She and Tatiana are alone. Eric is stuck on the roads, and none of the other guests for Christmas dinner will be able to make it through the snow. With each passing hour, the blizzard rages and Tatiana’s mood darkens, her behavior becoming increasingly disturbing . . . until, in every mother’s worst nightmare, Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.”

Thoughts: Mind of Winter is one of those tricky novels in which to share anything about the plot would be to establish expectations or create a hyper-awareness in future readers that will diminish one’s enjoyment of this spooky thriller. To truly enjoy it and recognize its brilliance it requires no prior knowledge, no hints, no clues, and no anticipation on the part of the reader. One should open the story as blind as possible, a blank slate to whatever is set to occur within its pages. Therein lies the warning for proceeding with any review reading of this book.

The success of Mind of Winter lies in the crisp writing and the emotional turmoil captured perfectly by Ms. Kasischke. Christmas is always stressful if one is hosting a large party, but the unexpected blizzard sets the tone for the rest of the day. For, the unexpected becomes a key theme of the novel, as nothing goes as planned and Holly must adjust to each new curve ball. That the day is also the anniversary of the day Eric and Holly first met and fell in love with Tatiana means it is also a day for reminiscence and contemplation.

Mind of Winter is a quiet novel in that there is very little action. For the story to succeed, one must feel Holly’s emotions, be able to understand them and empathize with her as she struggles to get through the day, all something Ms. Kasischke accomplishes through her careful stream-of-consciousness approach. The suspense is internal as Holly spends much of the story internally ruminating her past successes and current frustrations. Holly’s strength of character drives the story and establishes a benchmark for future happenings.

As the story is Holly and Holly is the story, one’s enjoyment depends solely on one’s reaction to her. Thankfully, Holly is a well-rounded, fully developed character with whom it is easy to empathize. The tension within the story builds subtly and without obvious reason, causing readers to question their doubts and suspicions. The conclusion is as stunning as it is sudden – one of those jaw-dropping moments that is so memorable for its clarity and creepiness – and is the reason why Mind of Winter is going to be quite popular in the months to come.

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