Motherhood, in all its magical and messy incarnations, is at the heart of Lisa Tucker’s The Winters In Bloom, a story that skates gracefully amid wonder, terror and redemption. Indeed, Tucker’s sixth novel is impossible to categorize, bending the confines of the psychological thriller with an eloquent literary narrative of tangled family ties between not only mother and child, but sisters, ex-spouses and even former in-laws.

Without exception, the characters that populate The Winters In Bloom are fatally flawed from damaged childhoods, yet Tucker’s mastery of voice, time and place prevents their stories from sounding clichéd. Abandoned by their mother and raised by an emotionally distant father and stepmother, sisters Amy and Kyra forge an intense sibling relationship when they are forced to parent one another. Kyra’s husband David was blessed with a loving, albeit long-suffering mother, but he struggles to suppress bad memories of an abusive father and is haunted by the ghosts from his first marriage to the mentally unstable Courtney, whose own maternal experiences bear the imprimatur of Greek tragedy. Still, Kyra and David manage to create a happy life together—until their five-year-old son, Michael, goes missing from their backyard.

If all this angst sounds confusing, stereotypical or even onerous, rest assured, The Winters In Bloom is exquisitely rendered and incredibly addictive. It will resonate with—and terrify—any parent who lies anxiously awake at night, fretful of the maladies and mayhem that can befall a child. This is a beguiling novel, alternately infused with despair and hope, and above all, the redemptive power of love.

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