One must have a mind of winterHolly Judge is the adoptive mother of a Russian girl who was rescued from a Siberian orphanage at the age of three. On Christmas morning thirteen years later, Holly awakens late with a disturbing mantra stuck in her head. “Something had followed them home from Russia.” Her husband, Eric, leaps out of bed in a rush, to pick up his parents from the airport, and Holly and her daughter are left alone in the house to prepare for Christmas dinner.
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
But something is not right. Holly is fixated on the strange words she woke up with, and as a heavy winter storm breaks outside, she can’t stop thinking about the original trip to Russia, about the adoption, and the years since. The reader gradually comes to understand that not all is as it seems, and that Holly may be a (gasp) unreliable narrator.
I happen to really enjoy unreliable narrators and subtly creepy stories. Mind of Winter is terrifically haunting. Although I wasn’t sure how much I liked it while I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down, and I find myself thinking about it still, days later.