The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
February 1, 2020
Three winter stories could not be more different. I suppose just as each winter, year by year, is not the same. Components can be similar. Cold temperatures, rains and snows. Winds. But one year might have mightier winds and the next frigid deep snow. Such are these winter stories. Two have religious aspects, two have mysticism. All three deal with medical concerns. People are lost and some are found, and some people find themselves in the process.
The first book, “Winter’s Secrets” by Lyn Cote, surprised me. I chose it for the mystery of crimes in a small farming community. There is a young nurse whose elderly patients are being targeted and a handsome sheriff to investigate. The romance that develops didn’t surprise me but the growing religious aspect did. “Winter’s Secrets” has a solid religious core that builds as do the crimes. Understand, the journey is fraught with violence and intrigue, snowmobiles chasing the bad guys and church members helping the attacked. Good people grow, bad guys get caught, amidst the winter storms.
“Winter Sisters” by Tim Westover is a different kind of winter. The Winters are young women living in the Appalachian town of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Though the settings are much like those found in the “Christy” series by Catherine Marshall, you won’t find wholesome. Picturesque is replaced by gritty, earthy realities. And the preacher is hell and damnation, calling out the Winter sisters as witches as he chases them out of town. The reader is immersed in the life of a new doctor wielding his knives for bloodletting and a bonesaw to rid sickened limbs. Believe me, 19th Century medicine is not for the weak of heart! The doctor soon finds that the town does not trust him and most people prefer the “witches” treatments to his.
Each sister is a healer. The oldest uses herbs. The middle sister utilizes tricks of the mind. The youngest sister’s healing is the most powerful, but comes from an unknown mysterious source. Superstition and legend abound. Did I mention the black panther that roams the forest driven by rabies? These descriptions might make the reader pass up this story. Yet...the humanity of it all, their desperate needs draw the reader in. The characters grow on you and you start to care and also need to know the answers to the mystical aspects. I won’t say the ending is satisfying. But I will say it leaves the reader thinking, perhaps in a deeper layer than usual.
Then we come to book number three, “Snow & Rose” by Emily Winfield Martin. There is a scary woods with something out there, always watching. The two young sisters have lost their father to that forest. His death has left their mother immersed in grief. Their lovely house and gardens are taken, and they are moved to a small cabin at the edge of the trees. Snow, with silver white hair and pale skin is the braver of the two. Rose, with her black hair and ruby red lips is cautious, but curious. Can you blame them for adventuring?
Into the forest they go, deeper and deeper. They find a boy who lives underground and a library with no books, but many stories. Some animals seem enchanted and the bear they rescue spends the winter hibernating in front of their fireplace. Have you guessed by now that “Snow & Rose” is a fairy tale? A mystery is definitely calling them deeper and deeper into the forest. And, as with all good fairy tales, they answer the call.
Of the three winter stories, the third delighted me most. The second intrigued me. The first had a good wholesome mystery to solve. In winter it is best to have a safe place to go when “the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” Winter down with a few good books and a hot steaming mug of your favorite brew. Go ahead, let it snow or blow. It’s winter!
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.