Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: In The Shadow of Blackbirds

In The Shadow Of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters

Why did you choose this book? this was the Big Library Read selection
When did you read this book? October 2015
Who should read this book? readers of paranormal or historical fiction
Source: library ebook
Here is a synopsis of In The Shadow Of Blackbirds from Goodreads

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

My Review

I have had this one on my list for a long time! I’d read the synopsis when it was first published almost 3 years ago and it sounded really interesting, so I put it on reserve. But by the time the reserve list had cleared, I was past my ‘paranormal’ phase and it no longer sounded so interesting. So when I saw it was the Overdrive Big Library Read selection last fall, I wasn’t terrible excited, but I checked it out anyway because….why wouldn’t I? I didn’t really expect to read it, but I found a little time on my hands, so I picked it up.

I’m so glad I did. My first impression way back in 2013 was spot on! Yes, this is paranormal, but it also is based in history. The events take place during the WWI years, which was also the period of the flu epidemic that killed so many. People lived in fear, actually wearing masks over their faces and cloves of garlic around their necks to stave off the flu. And of course, many, many young men were killed in the war or died from the flu, so many, many loved ones were left in mourning. This gave rise to the Spiritualist movement, when people held séances and visited Spirit Photographers in hopes of contacting their departed loved ones. This is the interesting backdrop against which In The Shadow Of Blackbirds is set.

In this story, the protagonist, Mary Shelley Black (yes, named after THAT Mary Shelley!) is sent to live with her aunt in San Diego after he father is arrested on suspicion of anti-government activities. The flu is running rampant in San Diego and everyone is in fear. In addition, Mary believes she has been ‘visited’ by the man she a ghost! In addition, she believes he is trying to give her a message. How did he die? What does he need her to do? Does he really exist? These are all questions that gives this novel the quality of a mystery. Once I got into the story, it was a very quick read. I enjoyed it very much. And it was great background for the book I just finished, The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher. I will be reviewing that one next week!

My Rating: ✰✰✰✰½    4½ Stars
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  1. I find all the spiritualist history very interesting. I think I saw this one a few months ago, but I haven't read it. Sounds like one I'd enjoy and would fit in the gothic theme I'm working on.

    1. If you are interested in the spiritualist age, you should as The Witch of Lime Street to your list if you haven't already read it. I'm working on my review of that one now!

  2. I'm glad this made it back on your to-read list! I always love when I get to a book that's been on my list for a long time and it turns out to be as good as I hoped when I added it :)