Historical Fiction, Mystery

Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira

Winter SistersWinter Sisters by Robin Oliveira

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do I start? I belong to a group on Facebook called BookSharks. It is basically a place for bloggers and reviewers to participate in reading challenges and blog tours. Every once in a while books become available for members to read upon request in exchange for posting a review on their blog. That’s where Winter Sisters comes in. I saw this title come across the Facebook group and I had to have it!

Winter Sisters is a historical fiction novel (my first this year!) as well as a story shrouded in mystery. When a debilitating blizzard comes crashing through Albany in 1879, the townspeople find themselves taking shelter in any nook or cranny they can find. The children spend days in the school and shop owners take shelter in their establishments, waiting for the deadly blizzard to pass. After several days, the skies begin to clear and the townspeople who were trapped by the weather are free to return to their homes. But, not everybody is going to make it back. The brutality of the storm becomes evident as the casualties pile up, and two young sisters are unaccounted for, no bodies to be found. The question becomes, “Where are Emma and Claire O’Donnell?”

What starts out as a mystery novel ends in the vein of a courtroom drama. As somebody who watches a lot of Investigation Discovery, if this work of fiction were a true story, it would make the perfect material for an episode of 48 hours (but, 1879 style).

Let me first start out by saying that I had never read a book by Robin Oliveira before, but I’m now a major fan. Her writing was absolutely beautiful. So sophisticated. So enthralling. Her extensive vocabulary and ability to play with sentence structure were incredible. It was written in a way that I absolutely felt like I had stepped into the 1800s.

Second, let me give a nod to the characters. I must admit I was a tad confused in the beginning when a litany of names and relationships were being thrown out. I found it slightly hard to follow who was in which family, and how each member was related. But one piece of advice: just keep reading. As the characters develop, the relationships become much more apparent and easy to follow. As far as the characters themselves, I found myself relating to each of them. I felt Mary’s anger. I felt Elizabeth’s sadness. I felt Jakob’s internal conflict. Robin Oliveira was masterful in her development of each contributing character.

I always try to caution the readers on my blog if there is disturbing content in any book I review. This book had some material that may be difficult for some readers specifically related to sexual assault, but I didn’t find it overtly graphic.

Winter Sisters is perfect for anybody who is looking for their next great historical fiction or mystery novel, or any of my John Grisham fans. This one is for you.

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