Sunday, June 22, 2008
#35 WINTER HAVEN by Athol Dickson
Date Began and Finished 6/02- 6/06 2008
Genre - Christian Fiction
Year It Was Published - 2008
Publisher - Bethany House
Number of Pages 333
Reason for reading: Review for Curled Up
Rating 4.5/5 stars
Blurb or Synopsis: I have only read two books by Athol Dickson, but I feel I can safely say that his books are some of the best I've read not only in the Christian fiction genre, but the previous book CURED was one of my favorite books from 2007. Dickson writes in a beautiful prose, and while they are Christian fiction books, I think those who normally don't read books in this genre may feel drawn to his books as well.
WINTER HAVEN takes on a Gothic feel as the story takes the reader into a world that is seemingly filled with mysterious doings along the foggy coast of Maine, with people that are filled with evil intent, at least it seems so on the outside.
The book opens with Vera taking a boat trip to an island off the coast of Maine. She feels out of place there, as she goes to retrieve the body of her deceased brother Siggy, who she has not seen in thirteen years. She was just a young girl when Siggy, a highly functioning autistic young man, ran away from home and was never seen again. but upon the news of his death, Vera rushes off to Maine, a trip that was out of character for the very shy and insecure woman she has become. but she needs to find the answers to why he ran away, and to confirm whether this body is truly her brother who disappeared without a trace.
Vera's search for the answers to her questions is not easy. The islanders do not appear to like her, and she feels that they are doing their best to keep her in the dark. What should have been a short trip turned into an extended one as she stumbles upon one roadblock after another in her search. While she at first denies that this body is her brother's, she finally accepts it and then realizes he has not aged a day. How could that be? Was there something wrong with him that he did not age a day since she had last seen him? Nothing made sense, and it gave her more cause to find those answers that she felt the islanders were keeping from her.
In her search for a place to stay, she ends up rooming at Ida Abernathy's home, a widow who appears to have her own secrets. She's abrupt with Vera, and gives Vera the creeps, but she needs a place to stay. And despite Ida's warnings, Vera ends up searching a part of the island that is supposed to be dangerous, and runs into a man that will change her life forever, a man that she isn't sure she could trust, or she could love.
I know WINTER HAVEN is labeled as Christian fiction, but it truly reminds me of the old Gothic suspense romances that were so popular back in the day. it is my favorite genre of fiction, and this book brought back all those memories. WINTER HAVEN does mimic the old Gothics, with the foggy atmosphere of the islands, the mysterious Ida Abernathy and her strange ways, a supposed ghost that scares Vera out of her wits, and the rumors and tales that are being passed around by the locals. Vera, while not the classic heroine of the old Gothic romances, still fits into the scheme of things as she continuously refuses to listen to the warnings of the locals while she searches for the answers to her
brother's death. And the mysterious man Evan Frost, a man that has his own secrets and is considered by some on the islands to be a danger to Vera, is the turning point in Vera's life. the intrigue presented by the book was enough to keep me reading.
Obviously, I'm recommending this book and it may end up on my 2008 list of top books read. I am definitely looking forward to his next book.