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Winter Wake Paperback – 9 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (9 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146379245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463792459
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,715,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Set in Maine, this novel was regarded by the late Rick Hautala as his own favourite, and as usual it's very readable, strong on local character and atmosphere, the story unfurls slowly but vividly and holds interest all the way to the ever-building and impressive climax. A nice mix of the psychological and the supernatural and a good uncomplicated read,
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Workings Of Dread And Great Characterization Amp Up This Good Ghost Tale 4 Oct. 2005
By Stephen B. O'Blenis - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Winter Wake" commences with a family - father John, mother Julia, and thirteen year-old daughter Brianna (Bri for short) journeying back to Glooscap Island, the place of John's birth and early childhood, to care for his father Frank, who's recntly suffered a stroke. It's clear from the onset that John is less than thrilled with this move, and thus the novel launches itself from the familiar but time-tested angle of the unhappy homecoming.

Considerable animosity persists between Frank and John from events years before, and almost immediately upon arrival, subtly strange events occur. The book is very driven by the inter-relationship angles between the four family members. Julia is instantly a likable character, while her husband almost as quickly establishes himself as a petty and petulant character, quick to take great offence at any real or perceived slights to himself and equally quick to shrug off or laugh off any of the same slights or difficulties experienced by others, including his own family. The grandfather, Frank, quickly cements himself as a likable enough though highly cantakerous (understandable, considering his recent misfortune) character although before long one may find oneself wondering if that initial impression of likability might have been misplaced. Bri is the best character of the core family, a bright, inquisitive and likable girl who I think many readers - whether male or female - will find themselves relating to in the way one would to a younger sister or niece, the way I did. This one character is responsible for a good deal of the book's relentless readibilty even in places where the going gets slow or runs a bit Too close to familiar storylines.

The ghostly elements are well-done - really not suffering from their familiarity - but what really gets creepy is the subtle tension coming from Bri and Julia living in this house with Frank and John and the mysteries of what secrets one or both of them are hiding. There quickly seems to be a strong connection to a girl named Abby whom John used to know; not to mention that an inordinate number of people on the island seem to be experiencing delusions about everything from ghostly organ music in the night to giant-sized rats lurking around the wharves. In terms of writing, it's in the middle of Hautala's work: not the best example of his writing style but better than a couple of works which have to some degree misfired in the prose department. At one point Hautala was considered to be on the cusp of joining King, Koontz, Barker et al. in the sales department but he's since dropped through the cracks to a much lower profile; hopefully his popularity will move back up higher in the near future.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Average horror novel, for completists 25 Jan. 2002
By Robert Beveridge - Published on
Format: Paperback
Rick Hautala, Winter Wake (Warner, 1989)

During the eighties, Rick Hautala was touted by the in-crowd as the next Big Thing in horror fiction; Fangoria even predicted Hautala would be the next Stephen King. But Hautala's meteoric descent into obscurity as the decade turned could be predicted by anyone who knows the unwritten (until now) rule of horror fiction blurbs: the more obscure the previously-famous blurb writer for an author, the more likely it is that the blurbed will make the same descent. And the blurb for Winter Wake comes from John Coyne, second only to Frank de Felitta in seventies horror, and just as obscure by the time Winter Wake appeared in 1989.

The rule of horror fiction blurbs wasn't necessarily the only way to prophesy Hautala's downfall. Winter Wake suffers from the traps of many genre horror novels, specifically overdramatized writing and about ten times the number of necessary exclamation points. Neither of these things prevents an author from attracting a core audience and achieving longstanding fame, however, as the example of Brian Lumley shows us. And what beyond that may have erased Hautala's name from the bestseller list is something of a mystery. Winter Wake is not a bad book by any means, despite the shortcomings mentioned above. It's not a great one, either, but no one lined up to give the Pulitzer to Dean Koontz for Darkness Falls, either.

The story presents us with the Carlson family: father Frank, son John, son's wife Julia, and son's stepdaughter Bri. Frank has recently suffered a stroke, and his rehab is taking longer than usual, so John and his family move back to the homestead on a small Maine island to help Frank around the house. Frank and John have never gotten along too well, though, and while Julia and Bri start feeling affection for the old guy almost immediately, things just get worse and worse between father and son. To throw an extra monkey wrench into the works, the house seems to be haunted, and the haunting seems to point to a dark secret in John's past.

The encapsulation above seems to point to Russell Bank's Affliction, doesn't it? Frank Carlson is a lot more affable, and John Carlson isn't quite as dysfunctional, but there's something to be said for the comparison. A family disintegrating over the gradual uncovering of a secret. Hautala, though, doesn't have the deftness of foreshadowing that Banks uses throughout his work; often, there might as well be THIS IS IMPORTANT in foot- high neon red over certain passages in Winter Wake. And while the actual dark secret is somewhat different than what one would expect, Hautala chose to channel the dark secret into an avenue where the logical choices the reader could guess are limited enough that the revelations at the end are still somewhat predictable. The book also suffers from the same unaccountable mood swings that seem to pervade just about every piece of fiction I've been reading recently. John and Julia go from yelling at one another to laughing to sullen silences in the space of a few minutes without any real triggers that we can see. It makes things simple and moves the plot along, but there's a strong feeling of attempted emotional manipulation, and it's just a little too close to the surface. When you can see it, it doesn't work.

Whether Hautala deserves the obscurity in which he finds himself these days is an arguable point; lord knows hundreds of best-selling authors have the same, or far worse, flaws in their various stories than these. The problem is there's not enough here to really start any kind of revival movement. ** ½
Falls Apart toward the End 15 Mar. 2008
By Howard Paul Burgess - Published on
Format: Paperback
WINTER WAKE started off with five stars, and steadily lost them as the original solid story devolves into THE SHINING meets FATAL ATTRACTION with a sprinkling of Peter Straub's GHOST STORY.

I got the impression that the author didn't really want to write a ghost story. The characters and setting are sharply drawn and in the beginning the book is compelling.

Then we bring in the marauding rats. Finally there's a finale that's supposed to be surprising but simply piles one cliche on top of another.

If the book were 150 pages shorter this might not be so bad. But as is it feels like a miniseries that makes a desperate attempt to fill out the hours to its alloted length.
A really fun, creepy read 31 July 2000
By Jim Lay - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've slammed Hautala in the past for some of his other work but Winter Wake was a really satisfying read. I've read it twice now and I enjoyed it both times. An average American family moves home to a small town in Maine to take care of an elderly relative. They soon find they are being stalked by a kind of wraith that seems to be related to a dark secret from someone's past. Hautala has fun with the idea and it really comes across. There's a lot of genuinely creepy elements to the story (even in the background,) and it makes for a great read. Find it. Read it. Enjoy it. I may even read it again.
Ghost of man's first love comes back to haunt him. 30 Aug. 2001
By Chadwick H. Saxelid - Published on
Format: Paperback
When a man returns home with his family to aid his ailing father, the spirit of his long deceased high school sweetheart begins to wreak havoc. Creepy atmosphere and character oriented plot. Recommended.
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