Reading time 3 mins
Review: THE WINTER GIRL by Matt MarinovichThe Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on January 19th 2016
Pages: 224
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Psychological, Thrillers
eARC provided by Knopf Publishing Group

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A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband's obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine--Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze--only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion.

Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.

This book left me scratching my head. Seriously. The characters were all twisted, and not in a fun way. Our protagonist is a former wedding photographer, so not much going on there. The wife is a speech therapist, but currently not working. They are both holed up at her dad’s place because he is in the hospital. He is dying of colon cancer. His death is taking too long. Before you start feeling sorry, you should know the dad is a really bad guy. He did something terrible to his daughter, but she still won’t talk about it. In the meantime our protagonist has nothing but time. He notices an automatic light going on in the house next door. Nothing odd there since it is winter in the Hamptons, so everyone is away. Or are they?

There wasn’t anyone worth rooting for in this story. Still I found myself following along as these bored adults waddle through their marriage, which is falling apart. They are definitely an odd couple. Our protagonist doesn’t know whether to hope they make up or hope they break up. Their relationship was really sad. The idle hands of our protagonist lead him to curiosity (remember what happened to the cat?). He wonders about the house next door. It’s former self is in ruin and falling apart. Looking for inspiration he wanders over to take some photos of the house, but then he notices the front door is unlocked.

These people shouldn’t have done what they did. They get into trouble, but it was addictive to see if it would spiral out of control for them. Kinda like watching a fire, or a car accident, if you are into that sort of thing. The winter girl (herself) was creepy and the result of really bad decisions. Starting off I didn’t really like the writing style. Something about the dialogue just wasn’t convincing, but then it just clicked for me. I had to find out what happened to this guy. In only his POV it becomes pretty apparent that the protagonist isn’t mentally well. If that is what the author was trying to portray, he pulled it off brilliantly.

I almost feel guilt saying I enjoyed parts of it. There were plenty of twists in this story. I can say it left me shocked. Like, I had no idea how we got here, sort of thing. I think this book is an acquired taste. You would have to be the sort of person who wonders about the house next door and throws caution to the wind. I don’t know if that will ever be me.

My Rating


About Matt Marinovich

MATT MARINOVICH is the author of Strange Skies and lives in Brooklyn. He has worked as an editor at Interview, Martha Stewart Living, People, and Real Simple. His writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency,, Salon, Quarterly West, Open City, Barcelona Review, Mississippi Review, Poets & Writers, and other publications.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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