Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 3.75 stars
The novel opens with 18 year old Persephone missing after a clandestine meeting with her boyfriend. 3 days later her body was discovered. 14 year old Sylvie's world has turned upside down with her sister dead and her mother retreating into the comforts of the bottle. She leaves town at the first opportunity, never expecting to return.
Flash forward 16 years, when Sylvie has found herself back home to care for her estranged mother as she undergoes cancer treatments. Persephone's case has long grown cold and Sylvie can't let her guilt about her actions go. When she encounters Ben, Persephone's secret boyfriend, all of her anger and frustration bubbles to the surface.
For those who are looking for an original plot, The Winter Sister is not for you. The subject of a sibling murder and an adult returning home to solve the crime is definitely a frequently explored trope. Where The Winter Sister shines is with the exquisite writing of Megan Collins. Megan Collins is a local author, based out of Manchester. Her familiarity with the areas she writes about is apparent. This knowledge made it easier for me to immerse myself in a book I would normally grumble through once it became predictable. The book is atmospheric; the use of the cold and dreary setting meshes beautifully with the chilly relationship between Sylvie and her mother. Collins deftly addresses abusive relationships without resorting to grandstanding or gratuitousness. The characters are realistically portrayed. The ending is satisfying despite its predictability. This is her debut novel and I'm eager to read her follow up.