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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins
Thriller

The Winter Sister

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Megan Collins, on your first book!

by Megan Collins

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Quick take

Sixteen years after the unsolved murder of her sister, a woman revisits the events of that deadly night.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle

    Puzzle

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy

    Creepy

Synopsis

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Winter Sister.
The Winter Sister

1

When they found my sister’s body, the flyers we’d hung around town were still crisp against the telephone poles. The search party still had land to scour; the batteries in their flashlights still held a charge. Persephone had been missing for less than seventy-two hours when a jogger caught a glimpse of her red coat through the snow, but by then, my mother had already become a stranger to me.

On the first morning of my sister’s disappearance, Mom locked herself in her bedroom. I stayed in my room, too—my and Persephone’s room—but I left the door ajar. For a long time, I watched the plows push through the foot of snow that had fallen overnight, and I kept imagining I saw Persephone out there, her fingers tapping on the window that fogged with my breath, and my hand opening it. Opening it every time.

The hours of that day were punctuated by my mother’s sobs. In fourteen years of being her daughter, I’d never heard such a thing. Even on the fifteenth of every month—what Persephone, rolling her eyes, called “Mom’s Dark Day”—there was only silence behind her bedroom door. Whenever she emerged the next morning, her eyelids were always swollen, but I had never actually heard her pain. But on this day, the first day, she cried so hard and so loud that I could swear I saw my paintbrushes quiver in their cup on my desk.

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Why I love it

We take our thrillers seriously here at BOTM because a) we know how much our readers love them, and b) we want to offer the best of the best. We start with a massive list and review them one by one until we find a book that boasts the magical trifecta: believable characters, a hefty dose of suspense, and a story that keeps you guessing till the end. The Winter Sister, I am pleased to say, checks all of these boxes.

Sixteen years after the unsolved murder of her sister, Sylvie is making ends meet as a tattoo artist when she’s called home to care for her estranged mother. When Sylvie learns that her mother’s cancer nurse is Ben, the forbidden boyfriend whom her sister was out with the night she was murdered, Sylvie finds herself thrown back into the events of her past.

With mysteries, it’s tempting to skip ahead and find out whodunit, but here I found myself far more invested in experiencing the characters’ lives in real time. I sympathized with Sylvie, still riddled with guilt over her sister’s fate. I felt the tense reunion of a mother and daughter whose relationship was destroyed by their mutual loss. I watched with suspicion as Sylvie encountered unsettling figures from her past, and I relished one clue after another until this ice-cold case was put to bed. This is a skillful debut from a new voice in suspense—one whose story will haunt you for days.

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Member ratings (13,098)

  • Mathea C.

    Vancouver, WA

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐I couldn't put it down or stop thinking about it when I had to. More than a mystery, a story that tugged at my heart. I appreciate the believable characters. I hope to read more from this author.

  • Lauren D.

    Cibolo, TX

    With the weight of her sister’s disappearance on her shoulders, Sylvie sets out for answers she’s always longed for.Her strength, resilience, & loyalty to her family are characteristics to be admired.

  • Heather C.

    Wilmington, DE

    This book described what it’s like to lose a family member in a traumatic way, with such depth. You could still feel sylvie’s pain from the loss and pain that comes with her relationship with her mom.

  • Cayla L.

    Seminary, MS

    This book shows the real human emotions of guilt, betrayal, and trust we all feel within us, even when we sometimes shouldn’t. While the ending was satisfying, I didn’t want it to end! Worth the read.

  • Mindy F.

    Eden , NY

    Predictable, but so well written that I didn’t mind. My heart ached for the main character through the entire book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages, I needed to find out how the story would resolve.

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