Book of the Week: Mind of Winter – Laura Kasischke

I’ll confess chauvinism when it comes fellow Michigander Kasischke. But my admiration is justified. She’s a triple threat—an award winning poet who won the NBCC Award for her collection Space, In Chains as well as a bestselling author of both adult and YA novels. Even if you haven’t yet read her you are likely aware of the film that was made of her book, The Life Before Her Eyes. Of the two recent novels she’s published with us, her eerie, thought-provoking suburban apocalyptic novel In a Perfect World has 160,000 copies in print. And I’m a big fan of 2011’s The Raising which the NYTBR called, “Almost a supernatural thriller, almost a campus satire and almost but not quite a coming-of-age tale, The Raising is also the best of Kasischke’s eight novels.”

Clearly Kasischke is at home contemplating darkness. What makes her recent thrillers interesting is the way she marries dark possibility to folklore and then drops the plot firmly in into the lives of contemporary middle class characters. It all hits a little uncomfortably close to home.

There are already many fans for this one among both reviewers and booksellers. My favorite one-word review is “Creeptastic!” (Thanks, Katie Capaldi.) Fellow author of bestselling supernatural suspense Jennifer McMahon notes that Mind of Winter is “[a] genuinely disturbing tale, each layer perfectly crafted, stacked together like a set of Russian nesting dolls, the tiniest one at the center the horrific secret that everything else depends upon….a masterwork of evocative prose and a bone-chilling page-turner.”

PW’s review lays out the plot:

One snowy Christmas morning in a Detroit suburb, Holly Judge and her 15-year-old daughter, Tatiana, prepare for the holiday while her husband, Eric Clare, drives to the airport to fetch his aging parents. The day reminds Holly of a Christmas 13 years earlier, when she and Eric traveled to Siberia to adopt Tatiana, who was then two years old. Holly is now convinced that Tatiana is not the child they first saw. ‘Something had followed them home from Russia,’ becomes Holly’s mantra, as she blames Tatiana for her stalled writing career and general malaise. Is Tatiana evil or a typical sullen teenager? A storm that grows into a raging blizzard mirrors Holly’s intensifying anxiety, turning their isolated home into a haunted house from which there’s no escape. Kasischke skillfully mixes an insightful look at a damaged woman with a twisty plot that builds to a shocking ending.”
Publishers Weekly

A book that will haunt you for days and long, long nights after reading.”
   — Booklist (starred review)

“It’s Christmas morning and Holly and Eric have overslept – blame the eggnog. Tatiana, their teenage daughter isn’t up yet either, but Christmas doesn’t hold the same excitement for her anymore. There is so much to be done – pick up the parents at the airport, get dressed, start the dinner, set the table. It’s a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Look at the snow coming down! Holly remembers a Christmas day in Russia when they met their daughter for the first time and later returned to bring her home. She remembers the deplorable conditions at the orphanage, she remembers that they brought no gifts for the orphanage workers, she remembers the cold and desolate surroundings. And so it begins. If an event in life is too painful to process, can you make it not exist by denying it? Can you pretend it never happened and at what cost? Absolutely NOTHING will prepare you for this story and this ending.”
–Judy Cummings, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI

Mind of Winter (9780062284396) by Laura Kasischke. $24.99 hardcover. 3/25/14 on sale.

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