Review: In the Shadow of BlackbirdsAuthor: Cat Winters
Published: 2013Series: Sadly no
Genre: YA Paranormal
Okay so here is how I picked this book up. Hauntingly awesome cover. Check. Historical fiction novel set around my favorite time period. Check. Slight romance. Check. Intriguing title. Check. I don't usually pick up a book without reading the short introduction inside the cover from the publisher. But I skipped it this time. And it was an amazing book. If you trust my book recommendations, then stop reading this post and go immediately check out In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Sometimes it's better when you go into a novel "blind", and this book will totally knock your socks off! The Setting paragraph is from Goodreads, which probably means it's courtesy from the publisher.
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?
Let me just start off by saying I'm not a huge fan of "ghost" books. I couldn't even make it through the much acclaimed Anna Dressed in Blood, a popular YA ghost novel. But if all the paranormal reads were like this book, I'd read them all! First the mystery was "haunting" (no pun intended) and the ending unexpected. For me, Winters did an excellent job of bringing 1918 to life (or death in this case) and I could honestly say I understand why spirit photographers were popular in that time. With so much death and suffering, I would want to believe my dead loved ones were always with me.
And this brings me to what I loved the most, Mary Shelley and Stephen. First Mary Shelley, the protagonist, was smart, quirky, and pretty...pretty much everything I strive to be. Winters made Mary Shelley relatable, memorable, and endearing, instantly making an connection with the reader. The romance between Mary Shelley and Stephen was not overpowering, but extremely sweet. I went through the book racking my brain on how Winters could bring Stephen back to life, with no avail. Could Winters possibly write an alternate ending for me? Just so I could have more Stephen time?
I don't do this often, but I was bawling at the end of this book. And of course, my sweet husband responds to my tears "and this is why I don't read...why would I want to get so worked up over a book?". Yes...he's a keeper! Because other than real life, no other form of entertainment can extract these kinds of emotions from me. I must admit the morning after I finished this book, I re-read my favorite passage and burst into tears all over again. I won't spoil the book for you by quoting the passage, but it deals with the last letter Mary Shelley reads from Stephen. Sigh...I think I'll go read it again right now actually!
What I DISLIKED about this book
Nothing. End of story...
I absolutely loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds, 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book. Mary Shelley and Stephen will be on my mind for weeks I'm sure. And I'm actually contemplating buying this book, an action I do not do often. Sorry about my long review, but I can't stop gushing about how good this book is. I feel like recommending this book to everyone, but I think people who enjoy historical fiction and ghost stories will especially enjoy Winters work. I know I did!