Disclaimer: if you are a parent? This will likely mess with you. Especially if you read it before bedtime.
Mind of Winter - Laura Kasischke
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.
I will tell you right now that I almost gave up on this book in the first few pages simply because if I read the line, "something followed them from Russia" one more time, I was probably going to throw the book. There are ways to make a story escalate, to increase the anxiety in a reader in less annoying ways than repeating a single line multiple times. It makes you feel like Holly is a crazy loon from the word go.
And I want to tell you a LOT more about this story and my insight but the downside to that is I'll ruin it all. I will tell you that the entire book is really whacked out. It's the story of Holly, on Christmas morning, and it's her inner conversation about her daughter Tatty, the challenges of having a teenager and it's just super odd. You know right from the word go something isn't right and I think my first clue is how many times she referred to her daughter's skin. Which makes no sense to you right now, but as you read it you will start to wonder what in the mother hell is going on here. Also, the phone call. There is a part in here where people call and the way they speak to Holly and how Tatiana doesn't respond and I thought right there, something isn't as it seems. Something is definitely wrong here.
I spent this whole story focusing on Tatiana and her bizarre behavior and then I get to the very last page. In fact, the very last paragraph on the very last page and it's such a game changer you automatically want to re-read it to see where you went wrong deciphering this story. Because it's that bizarre. By the time you get to the last page you don't know what to think and you will find yourself saying, "Are you bleeping kidding me???".
It's a really bizarre book and I wasn't scared until that last page and I realized what I had just read. It was creepy and terrifying by the time I got there and it was 3am and I hadn't slept yet and I won't lie- I checked on my kids. *shudder*
Check out the author's website HERE to learn more about her and her other works.