When I started reading The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman I had some idea of how dark it was.

I was told by a colleague that this book would probably scare the pants off of me. That Clifford Jackman wrote these characters so well that their dark personalities were palpable.

The Winter Family

The Winter Family, Cifford Jackman

Since I have read everything from Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I thought that “dark” was no big deal.

But as I go further in the book what I considered “dark”, was very tame.

Clifford Jackman paints a very realistic and raw look at the American Civil War and how a group of men, from many backgrounds and sides of the war, are brought together.

Prepare for your sensibilities to be shocked and your breath held as you can see the heinous crimes this group of mercenaries commit.

The Winter Family
is led by the young but ruthless Augustus Winter. With his pale features, hair like corn silk and eyes of golden yellow. His features are so remarkable that anyone who crosses him knows that they may not live to tell the tale.

I’m having a hard time thinking what villain that I would use as a reference to, but I keep coming up short. Augustus Winter is now my top literature villain. He’s just that tortured and evil.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Night movie. That is the level of disturbing that Augustus Winter is.

There is short chapters that keep the pace of the book going. It is also good when you need to put the book down after a particularly off-putting scene. I’m still seeing the chapter in the cellar every time I think of the book.

I liked that even though the cast of characters is male dominated, as a woman I had no trouble feeling that I could relate to them or understand the relationships (or hatred) between them.

Very much a western/thriller, guns drawn, ride into town and rob the train kind of book.

This is no spaghetti western. The entire cast of this murderous brood is almost as disturbing as Augustus Winter.

Bill Bread, of Cherokee descent, spends most of the time with a bottle of alcohol to numb his feelings.

Quentin Ross, just as deadly as Winter, has a political gloss to his demeanor that wins peoples trust, right before he kills them.  What a leader….

Charlie and Johnny Empire, brothers that tagged along after during and after the war. Bent on pillaging and  mayhem wherever they go.

The whole cast of male villains would be a perfect read for this coming Father’s Day.

This is not Clifford Jackman’s first book. He’s had 3 books in the past (“Deeper”, “The Black Box” and “Jackman’s Cliff”) are all available to order online at Amazon.ca and chapters.indigo.ca.

A must read for 2015, as there hasn’t been a book quite like it in a long time.

Mr. Jackman, if we ever meet in real life I will shake your hand for a well written book. No book, in an extremely long time, has made me lose this much sleep (both in “I want to stay up and read it” and “I’m going to see the cellar scene all over again if I close my eyes” kind of ways).

For my next pick I’m going to need something a little lighter and book recommendations are always welcome.