Book Review: The Stroke of Winter

Title: The Stroke of Winter
Author: Wendy Webb
Genre: Contemporary fiction, murder mystery, gothic romance
Year Published: November 1, 2022

Date Started: October 22, 2022
Date finished: November 1, 2022

This story about a woman named Tess who wants to restore a home that belonged to her family. She learns some mysterious things about the house and the people (family members) who once lived in the house. It turns out that the house is haunted by a past situation and Tess is determined to find out what happened. Tess is also a mother who is raising a young teen on her own and just trying to make a living on her own so living in this house will be the beginning of her life as a single mother.

This book starts out with information about the past, about an artist related to Tess. In the present, Tess learns how the owner of the home ended up in the situation they did. There is also a love story between Tess and a man who lived in the town names Wyatt. The mystery of the “haunted” house unravels as the story progresses. Eventually, we learn the truth.

Initially, I thought this was an excellent contemporary fiction with a side of romance, but after realizing that it’s a gothic romance, I wasn’t really feeling it. It’s more so a murder mystery with a side of modern romance, and because of that I’ve changed my ratings from four to two. I didn’t feel any gothic in it. It did drag for a while and then picked up within the last three chapters where all the excitement was. The writing was smooth, and the weather played into the mood, which I enjoyed. However, to be honest, I never really understood Tess’s motivation. I didn’t understand why she wanted to know the story behind her grandfather and why it was so important to her. I guess in a sense, I didn’t understand the motivation or it’s importance. As for the relationship between her and Wyatt, that too was a little off. For a book with so much hype, I just didn’t feel it. It’s not a terribly bad book, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Who should read this book: If you’re interested in ghost or haunted house stories with a bit of soft romance, this would be a good choice. If you’re looking for a real gothic read, I’d say, stay away. You’ll be disappointed.

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