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In the Winter Dark by Tim Winton
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In the Winter Dark (1988)

by Tim Winton

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I haven't read anything by Tim Winton (who comprises one third of the Holy Trinity of Australian writers, alongside Patrick White and Peter Carey) since high school, when I was obliged to force my way through Cloudstreet for English Lit. I suspect I'd like Cloudstreet a lot more now that I'm older and appreciate good literature, but I do still suspect Tim Winton of being similar to Cormac McCarthy - an excellent author, but one whose novels all tend to be pretty much the same.

In The Winter Dark caught my eye because of its horror themes:

Night falls. In a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jaccob sees a moving shadow. Across the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the verandah of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will be the same again.

Winton mentions the darkness itself quite a lot throughout the book, including the quote in the epigraph, and I was half-expecting him to pull something metaphysical. He doesn't. As in all good horror literature, the monster is never quite seen or explained, but as huge amounts of livestock are found mangled and mutilated, there is no doubt as to its tangible existence.

Winton does, however, focus more on the characters than anything else; this is a literary novella with horror elements, not vice versa. The climax was somewhat contrived, and while he manages a foreboding note here and there, there aren't many parts in the book that are actually frightening. It's not a bad book at all, but it's not particularly worth seeking out either.

In any case, it did bring me up to 25 books before the mid-point of the year. With luck I may be able to beat 2008's 50-book streak. ( )
  edgeworth | Jul 3, 2011 |
A short, but rather good, novel.

The plot revolves around three households in a valley in Australia where something weird starts happening.

At first its shadows seen out of the corner of the eye and then animals start being killed. But rather than go to the police or the council they try to deal with whatever it is themselves.

The characters get sucked into mutually destructive relationships never quite liking each other and never understanding the motivations of the others, but not able to escape either.

Winton builds to quite a grisly climax but the horror and weirdness never get out of hand in what I thought was a really well written novel. ( )
  andrewkbrown | Jul 17, 2007 |
Chilling. Every sentence is beautifully formed. The only problem was that it was too short. ( )
  DannyMorris | Sep 19, 2006 |
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Epigraph
There is such a thing as the pressure of darkness. Victor Hugo
Dedication
for Denise and Jesse
and for the Nannup Tiger
wherever you are
First words
It's dark already and I'm out here again, talking, telling the story to the quiet night.
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Book description
Night falls. In a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jaccob sees a moving shadow. Acorss the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the verandah of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will ever be the same again. Winton delivers a truely spine-tingling thriller
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Night falls. in a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jaccob sees a moving shadow. Across the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the verandah of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will ever be the same again.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140274030, 0143204718

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