I didn’t understand books with mystical overtones – until I read my first one and then I was hooked. I thank the publisher of The Winter Sisters by Tim Westover for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
About The Winter Sisters:
A stuffy big-city doctor. Three rural folk healers. An unexpected partnership could put lives on the line…
Georgia, 1822. Dr. Aubrey Waycross puts his faith in science, not superstition. So when he moves to a remote mountain town, he’s dismayed to see the townsfolk reject his scientific blood-letting methods in favor of potions and witchcraft. And with a rabid panther stalking the area, he’s running out of time to convince the citizens of the error of their ways.
Confronting the trio of spell-peddling sisters, he’s stunned to find their herbal remedies may contain the missing ingredient he needs for a cure. But with the local pastor hellbent on driving them out and the youngest sister unwilling to share her mysterious abilities, he worries he could lose the sick to madness and death.
Can Dr. Waycross discover the right combination of science and sorcery to save the townspeople?
The Winter Sisters is a spellbinding frontier-America historical fantasy. If you like unique twists on history, complex characters, and a touch of enchantment, then you’ll love Tim Westover’s richly woven tale.
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About the Author:
I’m Tim Westover, (1982 – ?). I’m not a native Southerner – no accent, no family roots here. I’m Southern now through exposure and exploration and no small amount of good luck.
I was born in Rhode Island, and my family moved to Tennessee and then to London, England. We moved to Georgia when I was in high school. I graduated from Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, GA, and then went to Davidson College in North Carolina and the University of Georgia. I traveled for volunteer work and language studies, going to Russia, Iceland, Germany, Croatia, Cuba, and all over the United States.
But after all that, I came back to Lawrenceville. Today, it’s an Atlanta suburb, filled with chain restaurants and Interstate traffic. Right in the middle, there’s a pretty square with an old brick courthouse. Going on walks during my lunch break, I’d read the historic signs, and I learned that under the pavement, there’s a lot of history and tall tales. The present courthouse is actually the third one on the site: the first one burned in 1871, and the second one was so poorly constructed they tore it down in 1884. Lawrenceville used to be on the frontier of Cherokee territory; important trials and debates in the tragedy of the Trail of Tears happened here. There’s gold in the river and, tucked between subdivisions, there’s a line of mounds that might be in the shape of a giant serpent. Citizens protested puddles on the dirt roads by casting their fishing lines into them. Oak trees cast their shade on crumbling stone horse troughs. Men and women swapped horses and gossip and listened to the patent medicine sellers on Honest Alley. Mrs. Maltbie took her whacking cane and smashed up the saloon that sold her son one too many drinks.
Back in the day, Lawrenceville built a low black fence around its square because they’d leave the doors open on hot days, and pigs would wander into the courtroom and cause a ruckus. There’s a legend that anyone who sits and takes a rest on that fence will never leave Lawrenceville. I decided to sit down.
I learned how to make biscuits – we didn’t have a family recipe, so I had to start one. I’ve shoveled dead possums off my driveway. I taught myself to play the clawhammer banjo. I’ve met the mule that turns the wheel that grinds my favorite brand of grits (Red Mule Grits, the mule’s name is Luke). I say “y’all” unironically.
On the weekends, I drive to other little Georgia towns. Each one has a history just as rich as Lawrenceville’s. Some only exist as historic markers now, or as ghosts. A pile of stones in a traffic median north of Dahlonega is the grave of an Indian princess, Trahlyta, who drank from a fountain of youth but died when she was captured by rival warrior and carried away from her land. Outside of Winder was a boiling lake of mud that was known as “Cherokee Hell” until it exploded one day in the 1800s. A giant invincible turtle lived in the caves in the mountains; settlers knew they couldn’t kill it, but they kept throwing rocks and stones until it retreated in annoyance to depths unknown.
I tell people that I don’t make up anything that I write. Generations before me have already found the best stories. I collect what I can from old folks, young folks, museums, signs, pamphlets, and old newspaper articles. And I tie them up with a little narrative to save as many of the old stories as I can.
This is a book that grabs you from the very first paragraph. It begins with a doctor moving to a rural area of Georgia where they are desparate for him to settle. There are tales of a panther roaming the woods and people are showing signs of rabies. Dr. Waycross arrives but he finds it’s not what he expected in so many ways.
The town had been relying on a family of sisters for their healing, the Winter Sisters, but the Preacher in town feels they are witches and so has used the power of his pulpit to scare them out of town. That does not stop people from seeking them out. This goes against the scientific training of Dr. Waycross but he is surprised when he finally meets them and finds them not to be stoop shouldered old women but rather attractive young women.
The two sides must come together when the sweetest member of the commutity falls ill. As they race to cure her they will need to fight superstition, the Preacher and whatever it is that ails her. Also, the good Dr. Waycross has discovered the effects of ether and he turns to it much like today’s addicts turn to heroin. It’s impacting his stability.
As I noted, I was drawn in by the writing from the very first paragraph. Mr. Westover’s writing style is pure magic; it creates the world of rural Georgia where you might just see a panther in the woods. The words flow in such a lyrical way you will find it very hard to put the book down until you turn the last page and once you do you will feel disoriented as you readjust to the real world. The characters are quirky and yet very believable until they are not. The world of the Winter Sisters is one that I was glad I visited.