First line: "She woke up late that morning, and knew:
Something followed them home from Russia.
Holly Judge and her husband Eric Clare overslept Christmas morning. As Eric dashed out the door to the airport to pick up his parents, Holly began the laborious process of preparing for a holiday and a house full of people.
Meanwhile, Holly and Eric's teen daughter Tatiana, who they adopted from Russia, is behaving strangely. She's ignoring her mother's requests for help, changing her clothes repeatedly and swearing at Holly. One minute she's kind and loving, the next she's angry and volatile.
With a snowstorm raging outside, all of the holiday guests are stranded and unable to make Christmas dinner. Eric has to detour to the hospital because his mother is acting confused and disoriented. So Holly's left alone to deal with Tatiana's tantrums until her husband can return. As the swinging door of Tatiana's emotions flips back and forth, Holly remembers the process she and Eric went through to adopt "Tatty" and the life they had once she came home to live with them.
But this Christmas, will Holly discover that more than just a beautiful baby girl came home from Russia with them?
Beware of this psychological thriller, it's addictive. Once you pick it up, you'll likely have a difficult time putting it down. The plot is bewitching and the characters are enchanting. Tatiana is Holly and Eric's fairytale princess, but this story is more in line with Grimm than Disney.
While I feel that the plot is loose and could have been tightened up significantly--detail often had a tendency to be redundant or excessive and the repeated use of parenthetical phrases pulled me out of the story--the foundation is a suspenseful, mind-boggling mystery. The alternation of present day with past memories slows the momentum of the plot down, so it's not especially fast paced, but it enhances the suspense and pumps up the reader's adrenalin levels.
Holly and Tatiana are engaging characters. The reader is closest to Holly as the story's narrator, but her depictions of Tatiana from their first encounter in Russia and throughout her childhood are endearing, starkly contrasting the brooding, erratic teenager tormenting her mother on Christmas. Holly helps the readers to fall in love with her daughter, just as she did, so they're invested in what's plaguing Tatty and how it can be resolved.
Holly is a sympathetic character. As she looks back on her journey to adopt and raise Tatiana, she identifies her faults and failures as a first-time mother, looking for ways she could have changed, been a better mother, so this Christmas day would have turned out differently. Who hasn't experienced regrets and can't identify with this feeling? As Holly learns throughout her day, hindsight is 20/20 and sometimes when we simply don't want to see what's right in front of us, we don't.
As the white pristine snow blankets the world outside her home, chaos rages inside Holly's world. So clear your calendar once you pick this one up because you aren't going to want to take a time out for anything until you discover exactly what followed Holly, Eric and Tatiana home from Russia!
Mind of Winter is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0062284396) from Harper. There is also an unabridged audiobook version (ISBN: 978-1482992670), narrated by Justine Eyre available from Blackstone Audio.
My review of Mind of Winter is part of the TLC Book Tour. You can see what other bloggers are saying about the novel, by visiting the tour site for a complete list of tour participants. And you can learn more about Laura Kasischke at her website.
Disclosure: I do some contractual work for one of the owners of TLC Blog Tours. My work does not involve this tour or any other tour I would agree to be a part of here at the blog. Nor does my work with them obligate me to a specific kind of review. The reviews are still my own opinions and reflect only my thoughts on the novels. If you care to read more, you can find more information on my Disclosure page.