Holly Judge and her daughter Tatty are trapped alone in their house on Christmas Day as a snowstorm rages outside. Holly woke with the unsettling sensation that “Something followed them home from Russia” where she and her husband adopted Tatty 13 years earlier. Holly’s husband left that morning to retrieve his parents from the airport, and as the day progresses, it becomes clear that they and the rest of their guests will not arrive. Holly tries to keep Tatty’s spirits up but Tatty is determined to make her mother miserable. Holly’s sense of unease grows as Tatty exhibits more and more strange behaviour. Is Holly right? Did some evil force follow them from Russia?
Mind of Winter is such a claustrophobic novel, it’s Hitchcock-esque. It reminded me of We Have Always Lived in the Castle too. Everything happens in one day between two people in one house. Holly thinks back to how she and her husband went to Russia to adopt Tatty. She muses over her motherhood experience and whether or not she’s done right by Tatty. I’ve got to say Tatty seemed like a real pain in the rear, as teenaged girls often are to their moms, but she is a special case. After a while though, I started to suspect that Holly was a bit off herself. And then the end, wow, I did not see that coming.
Even though Holly is a little wacky, I sympathized with her and her struggles with motherhood. In fact, it’s scary how much of myself I saw in her. There is no way to know if you’re doing the parenting thing right. Nobody can tell you. I know I don’t have the patience of that Duggar mom, and fear that my kid will be writing posts for xoJane 15 years from now (It Happened to Me: My Mom Wouldn’t Buy Me an iPhone).
I managed to read Mind of Winter in one day. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what was going on in that house. It’s a slow build, a psychological thriller, with a somewhat unreliable protagonist. Be patient. The payoff is worth it.