Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Mind of Winter

Mind of Winter
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of heavily character-driven stories and unreliable narrators
Book Available: March 25, 2014 in Hardcover and Kindle formats
Trigger Warnings: child abuse and neglect
Animals: mention is made (although it is not described) that a cat is run over; four hens peck another one to death

My Thoughts: I am not sure what to make of this book. Is it a slow descent into madness? Is it a ghost story? Is it allegorical or literal? The descriptions of the Siberian orphanage were enough to tear the reader's heart out, but by the end of the book, that will be the least of the traumas to which the reader has been subjected. So much of this speaks to the sorts of nightmares that adoptive parents have, and to their fears and insecurities.

I imagine a lot of readers will be put off by the disjointed and repetitive nature of the narrative, but for me it works to show just how frazzled and stretched Holly is. Holly is also a master of ignoring uncomfortable truths, pretending that everything is okay when really it is not.

Tatiana's definition of a soul was interesting to me. “The soul was the thing hidden inside the thing, and it made it what it was. You could not be, say, an actual parrot without a parrot soul.” It isn't the most profound, as Tatiana came up with it when she was nine, but it was interesting, and a good example of the sorts of things that she tended to think about. Make no mistake, this entire book is Holly's paean to Tatiana, to the idea of her, to the reality of her. Holly's obsession with her daughter, and her fears for her, are plain to see for all readers.

This one hit me right in the feels. As an adopted child myself, I am familiar with the sorts of things that adoptive parents have to deal with. I am familiar with the things that adoptees have to deal with. The synopsis will lead you to believe that this story is about something supernatural, but to me the story was about Holly and her feelings for, about, and surroundings Tatiana. Who—or what—Tatiana is in this book, that is the question you will have to decide for yourself. This is a very haunting book and I think people who enjoy heavily character-driven stories with unreliable narrators will enjoy this book.

Disclosure: I received an ARC through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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

Something followed them from Russia.

On another Christmas morning thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric were in Siberia to meet the sweet, dark-haired Rapunzel they desperately wanted. How they laughed at the nurses of Pokrovka Orphanage #2 with their garlic and their superstitions, and ignored their gentle 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, has not been right in the years since they brought their daughter—now a dangerously beautiful, petulant, sometimes erratic teenager—home. There is something evil inside this house. Inside themselves. How else to explain the accidents, the seemingly random and banal misfortunes. Trixie, the cat. The growth on Eric's hand. Sally the hen, their favorite, how the other chickens turned on her. The housekeeper, that ice, a bad fall. The CDs scratched, every one.

But Holly must not think of these things. She and Tatiana are all alone. Eric is stuck on the roads and none of their guests 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 and frightening. Until, in every mother's worst nightmare, Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.

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