Tucked into the lush, wild mountains of Georgia, Lawrenceville is a quintessential frontier town in the year 1822. Dr. Aubrey Waycross arrives from Savannah, unaccustomed to country life but called there by the town’s mayor to treat an outbreak of rabies. Dr. Waycross’ deeply personal connection to the then incurable disease endears him to their plight, but he soon finds the situation isn’t as dire as he imagined. While the citizens are at turns terrified by the folklore surrounding a rabid panther and enchanted by a trio of healing sisters, he struggles to reconcile superstition and magic with more academic methods of healing. But when the threat he was promised becomes all too real, Dr. Waycross may need to put his trust in things he cannot explain to save the lives of people in his care. Is there such a thing as a miracle cure?
THE WINTER SISTERS is a deftly crafted historical novel with an added layer of magical realism that’s handled with a delicate touch. That air of mystery seeps into the novel from beginning to end, and the story is better for it. The trio of sisters are called witches by some, healers by others, and reviled by the town’s preacher who drove them deep into the mountains. They rely on Old World medicine, cures given by the land—and occasionally some graveyard dirt—and a bit of superstition to ease the locals’ minds. Rebecca, the eldest and most maternal, Sarah, the wild, sharp tongued middle child, and Effie, the waifish, eerie youngest sister who holds a power that no one except her can quite understand. They’re a dynamic mix of personalities, and the way they each interact with the town’s new physician Dr. Waycross and each other is compelling and moving to witness.
The story of THE WINTER SISTERS is shared between their perspectives, and Dr. Waycross’ narration is both humorous and captivating. He makes for a rather sympathetic protagonist for all his faults and mishaps, like his secret addiction to ether and his poor attempts at gaining the townsfolks’ trust. There is a thread of romance between him and one of the sisters that doesn’t overtake the plot but heightens the amount of tension. Each conflict unraveled in THE WINTER SISTERS is as gripping as the last, the characters so multifaceted that they feel real. The town of Lawrenceville is rendered with such care, populated with characters who jump off the pages, that it’s possible to get lost in it. It’s an absorbing novel with excellent historical detail, from Dr. Waycross’ nineteenth century treatments to the Winter sisters’ use of the land that they live on. The blend of science and old American folklore is magic in itself.
A spellbinding blend of historical fiction and magic realism, THE WINTER SISTERS mixes science with superstition in this enchanting, lush novel.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader