Title: A Spell of WinterAuthor: Helen Dunmore
Published: 1995, Penguin
Accolades: 1996 Orange Prize Winner
Isolated on their grandfather's estate after their mother abandoned them and their father is sent to a sanatorium Catherie and Rob rely on each other to navigate the secrets and loneliness of their world until their need for each other crosses boundaries and destroys all they know.
With Dunmore's haunting proses she draws the reader in this dark eerie story as we are introduced to Catherine, a grown woman, living in one room of a decrepit estate trying to stay warm wrapped in her brother's army coat. I was hooked immediately and could not let go. Dunmore masterfully weaves suspense and horror as her tale twists and builds until you wonder how this story will resolve and then two thirds into it you realize that it doesn't - there lies the problem with this book.
Let me explain. I really did like this book. The sensory details of an English winter had me reading this book wrapped in a blanket and drinking hot chocolate - that's how atmospheric the book is - I was cold. Dunmore expertly drew me in and with each heightening twist I kept wondering how is she going to end this and I think she may have been asking herself the same question. After the final crushing event I felt like I was reading a completely different book. I kept thinking "Huh, what happened, this isn't how I would end it." This book was to good for pat endings.
Is it worth reading? Absolutely, the writing is exquisite, but maybe you should stop reading in the middle of chapter 23rd that would have been a perfect, creepy ending.