Books,  Five Stars,  Review,  YA

Book Review; In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

in the shadowsAuthor: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet
Published: 2nd April 2013
Pages: 400
Format: Hardback
Source:: ARC from Publisher
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon UK, TBD

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

In A Flutter

I’m not entirely sure what first drew me into this book, a small part of me wants to say it was wholly the ghost theme but I have a feeling it was the historical side of things as well. Generally I don’t usually go out of my way to read historical fiction but this novel just sounded so interesting that I thought I should just give it a go. Needless to say, I am incredibly glad that I gave this book a try as it was a spectacular read that I couldn’t get enough of. This was a novel that grabbed me completely and refused to let me read anything else until it was completed. It is a novel that I would highly recommend and one that I really wish to do justice in a review.

Of Wings

Mary Shelley Black is a sixteen year old girl growing up during World War One. As if that doesn’t make life hard enough, she also has the added stress of the Spanish Influenza virus lurking around. Then, just as though the world is seeing how much she can handle, her first love appears to her as a spirit and her whole life turns upside down. There is so much going on in this novel that is dealt with so brilliantly. It is full of tension to keep you turning the page, and a plot that never gets too confusing but makes everything feel so realistic. Cat Winters certainly doesn’t shy away from the emotional moments in this novel and her portrayal of World War One feels incredibly realistic. It seemed so odd, at times, that these words were only works of fiction.

Their Lives

If ever there was a character to grab your heart and steal it away, Mary Shelley Black is the one to do it. She is an incredibly strong character, stubborn to her roots, and full of her own thoughts and ideas that she is willing to implement. Placing her in 1918, she is a remarkable character who you could see going off to change history. Powerful, determined and intelligent, Mary Shelley will always do everything in her power to make it all okay. I really loved how true of a character she felt, she really helped you to connect to everything going on as you could really just imagine everything so vividly. I could only ever hope and pray that there were more women like her in real life.

On the other hand, it is worth noting all of the side characters in this novel that really helped to make it just as brilliant. Julius Embers was portrayed really well. He’s obsessive, abusive, but he also has a heart buried underneath it all and is just worried about it all. It’s clear that Cat Winters spent a lot of time on her characterizations of all her characters. Aunt Eva was brilliant throughout, a young woman who was put through so much so young that she was forced to become responsible. She worried about those she cared about, had crushes that she tried to hide, and just wanted to find something true to believe in. It’s hard not to love her.

Are Changing

If there is one thing that kept me reading until the very end – beside from the magnificent plot and excellent characters, of course – it was the remarkable writing style. Cat Winters manages to draw you into her novel with ease. Her writing is deep yet easy to take in and she has really managed to capture the essence of the time. Through Mary Shelley Black you see the world around you as bleak and bland as she felt it was and it’s hard to picture it as anything but the world it was back then. This is a notable talent that I really hope doesn’t go unnoticed in the world because she deserves people to realise how amazing she really is. Cat Winters is an author that I will definitely be keeping an eye on from now on because I am, quite simply, in awe.

For Good

As mentioned above, I don’t often read historical fiction novels and so I feel I can’t really judge this book based on its genre alone, but I do know that it was a truly outstanding novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and had to read from start to finish incredibly quickly. It was a novel that pulled me in, shocked me emotionally, and made my heart beat a little faster. I truly connected with all of the characters – even those we see for only a page or two – and I find that to be something of beauty. This novel is one that will stay with you for days and one that I can imagine myself re-reading again at a later date. It is a novel with a strong heroine that many feminists would be proud to read about. But truly it is simply Cat Winters and her amazing talent that should draw people to this book. I just really don’t think you should be missing out on this hauntingly brilliant book.

five stars

** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **



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