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Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

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 Thoughts
Quite honestly I don't have huge amounts to say about this book

Me being me I loved the historical setting and found myself completely fascinated by the glimpse into the world in 1918 which was gripped by the Spanish influenza pandemic. The pictures dotted through the story really added to this for me and I couldn't get enough of finding out about the insane cures and ideas people had about the disease alongside the sheer terror the threat of the influenza put into people. I also enjoyed learning about the toll war had on ordinary people on the homefront and seeing the different ways in which they had to adapt to help get their country through the war. The story also made a few poignant comments about shell shock and the impact it had in men serving and how so misunderstood those men were.

I loved the main character Mary Shelley and loved how quirky see was especially for her time in the way she was into fixing and mending things and learning about science. It made a really refreshing change.

However the thing that didn't do it for me was the spiritual side of the story. Yes it was creepy and well written but I really didn't buy into it. Yes I know its a book and often things written aren't true / proven but in this case I just couldn't suspend belief enough to enjoy it. This meant that all the mystery around the spirits was lost on me.

Not a bad read and I'm sure others will love it and while I did enjoy elements I highly doubt I'll be rereading anytime soon. 


Anya said…
Hmm, interesting review. I've seen this book around the blogs a lot but haven't felt the need to read it - might have to give it a go, though!
I thought the spiritualism was well-done; I've read quite a few books where people were all caught up in the spiritualism craze at different periods throughout time.
Anonymous said…
I don't think I'd heard of this one before, but given the way you described it, I think it might be one of those books that's right up my alley! I'm going to have to see if I can find a copy and give it a try. Thanks for the review!