BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Mind of Winter
by Laura Kasischke
On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens with the fragments of a nightmare floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. Thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric adopted baby Tatty, their pretty, black-haired Rapunzel, from the Pokrovka Orphanage #2. Now, at fifteen, Tatiana is more beautiful than ever—and disturbingly erratic.
As a blizzard rages outside, Holly and Tatiana are alone. With each passing hour, Tatiana’s mood darkens, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening . . . until Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.
MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from this book–was it supernatural? Was Holly’s daughter possessed, was their house haunted? Whatever I expected, it sure wasn’t what I got.
Mind of Winter focuses on two main characters, 42 year old Holly and her 15 year old daughter Tatiana. Tatiana was adopted from Siberia at almost 2 years old, and ever since has been her parents’ pride and joy. But lately, Tatiana (or Tatty, as she’s called) has been having severe mood swings, acting disrespectfully, and is just in general not the sweet girl that everyone loves. Is it just normal teenage girl behavior, or, as Holly fears, is it something that goes all the way back to her Russian roots?
Though the book does have two main characters, this book is told from Holly’s viewpoint and is really about her. The novel occurs on Christmas Day when Holly and Tatty are snowed in. While Holly scrambles around the house trying to get things ready for Christmas dinner, Tatty acts even more strangely than usual; she changes clothing several times and without any real reason, she appears and disappears seemingly in the blink of an eye, and she’s strangely unresponsive to anything her mother tells her to do.
Holly tries to reason away everything that is happening in the house that day, but as it gets later Tatty becomes more and more erratic. As Holly flashes back in her mind to the process they went through to bring Tatiana home, we see the deplorable conditions the young girl was in before she left her native Russia. Holly is searching for any clues, that she may have overlooked even back then, that could explain what is happening with her daughter.
The synopsis and idea behind this book were very intriguing and offered a lot of potential, which it unfortunately did not live up to. Holly is neurotic, and the reader has to suffer through this by reading her extremely repetitive inner monologue. “Something followed them home from Russia.” Yes, this thought is drilled into our heads enough that it almost becomes the only thing to focus on.
As I mentioned before, we see a lot of flashbacks through Holly’s eyes. Some of them give you a good insight as to the pasts of the characters, but many of them felt unnecessary and didn’t add much to the story. They almost just felt like page filler.
The thing that irritated me most was the end–it was very sudden, and I had to read the last page several times to grasp what was going on. This is because up UNTIL the last page, YOU STILL DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. While some readers may appreciate a shocking twist that comes out of nowhere, I think a bit more foreshadowing would have helped me along.
This is not to say that I did not think the end was very unique. It’s been a couple of days since I finished Mind of Winter and that ending has stayed with me; I keep thinking about everything that happened between Holly and her daughter and attempting to work it out in my mind. Whether you enjoy this novel or not, Mind of Winter is one that will keep your mind working for a while.
About the Author
Laura Kasischke teaches in the University of Michigan MFA program and the Residential College. She has published seven collections of poetry and seven novels. She lives with her family in Chelsea, Michigan.
Find out more about Laura at her website.