The Stroke of Winter by Wendy Webb

Lake Union| 1 November 2022 | 300 pages| e-book edition| My own copy| 2.5*

She’s restoring the old family home on the hill. And unearthing something evil.

In the tourist town of Wharton, on the coast of Lake Superior, Tess Bell is renovating her old family home into a bed-and-breakfast during the icy dead of winter…

As the house’s restoration commences, a shuttered art studio is revealed. Inside are paintings Tess’s late grandfather, beloved and celebrated artist Sebastian Bell, hid away for generations. But these appear to be the works of a twisted mind, almost unrecognizable as paintings she and others familiar with his art would expect. The sinister canvases raise disturbing questions for Tess, sparking nightmares and igniting in her an obsession to unearth the truth around their origins.

What evil has been locked away for so many years? The ominous brushstrokes, scratching at the door, and moving shadows begin to pull Tess further and further into the darkness in this blood-chilling novel of suspense by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Keepers of Metsan Valo.

I haven’t read any of Wendy Webb’s books, but I liked the blurb so I got an ebook through Amazon First Reads. I didn’t know what to expect but I was rather disappointed. It is easy to read, almost too easy in a simplistic style in which actions such as getting items out of the fridge are described in detail. In fact it is so detailed that all the rooms in the house are described, along with all the furniture and furnishings. It is a mix of genres – a cozy mystery, a haunted house/ghost story with some creepy scenes, a horror story, a romance and a recipe book. There is lots of unnecessary repetition as various events are described over and over again and the ending is rushed.

Its good parts are that I liked the setting in the fictional town of Wharton on the shores of Lake Superior and despite my disappointment in the writing style I liked the plotline centered on Amethyst (known as Tess) Bell’s family and their family home. So I wanted to read on to find out what was going on, just what was making the scratching noises Tess hears in the middle of the night and what is the secret of the large room that had been closed off, the door permanently bolted and the windows shuttered in black? It had been like that as long as Tess could remember.