Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters


Author: Cat Winters
Pages: 387 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Status: standalone

Synopsis (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.


In the Shadow of Blackbirds was an emotional and whirlwind read that reminded me why I am such a huge fan of historical YA-and am a sleepless reader!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds was a book that I really wanted to read for a while. Especially since it was a historical YA. I've seen it around and have seen many positive reviews about the book, so I was happy when I was able to be the first person on the waitlist in my public library system for this book. This book is everything that you want in a historical YA my fellow history geeks! And if you aren't really a fan of the genre, this book will make you fall in love with it!

This book is quite refreshing for me- the concept in which Cat Winters based it off on was really interesting, and I really loved her twist on ghost photography. I felt like she captured the desperate need of the people living in WWI and the Spanish Influenza, and their need to contact their loved ones through photographs perfectly.

I loved the narrator, Mary Shelley Black (and yes, she was named after the Mary Shelley). She was feisty, she was intelligent, she knew what she wanted and of course, she was a fighter. She was so mature and knew how to handle herself and the world around her so well that I forgot that 98% of the time, she was my age.

Now, this wouldn't be YA if there wasn't a little bit of romance here and there. What I loved and hated in this book was the romance. I loved it because it was so sweet seeing Stephen and Shell just fall in love, even in the worst moments, and I was just rooting for them you know? What I hated the most was the fact that it was cut too short and the ending...the ending was just BRUTAL! It was so sweet and so perfect for this book, that I was actually crying because I just didn't want to believe it! But the way that Cat Winters ended Stephen and Shell's love story was so perfect and just so Shelley and Stephen (Shephen or Stelley). I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way, but I was also having withdrawal seconds after I read the last sentence of the book.

The writing style in this book was very nice, and I loved how everything was just planned out. If romance and channeling the dead beyond the grave using séances and photography aren't your thing, then you should definitely read it for the mystery!

I hate how I got some things, and then a few pages/chapters later BAM! I was totally off. There was a part of me that knew throughout the whole story that Stephen's older half brother was part of his death. I also knew that Gracie and Grant knew how he died as well. As for how to Stephen died and such, I was speculating that he was half-alive for 65% of the novel because a) he didn't say they came for him till near the end and b) I just didn't want to let him go like Shell. But as for who helped with his death, yeah, that totally blew my mind. I didn't really understand how said character just slipped through my over analyzing ways. I really did think that the black-and-white bird that Aunt Eva (Mary's aunt) owned actually was part of the whole grand scheme of things.

This book was amazing, and I definitely recommend this to anyone out there! This is SO totally going to be one of the Favourite Reads of 2014 list at the end of the year. This book reminded me why I loved the YA historical genre. I've seen so many YA historical series/books about the supernatural with the girl fighting off some supreme being to be with her forbidden loved one (which I totally don't mind at all). I've also seen so many YA historical series/books that are all about relationship, all about the forbidden romance etc (again, which I don't mind at all). This book had some of those elements, but overall, In the Shadow of Blackbirds stands out from the rest. 

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a war story not about a victim, not about a villain nor a hero, but about an extraordinary girl living on the sidelines through the horrible time, learning that her once black-and-white world is tainted with blood and lies, and that she has the power to stop the world from mucking up everything so badly by living her life and of course, letting go.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

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