Monday, January 20, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters

Author: Cat Winters
Published: April 2013
Series: N/A
Genre: YA historical / paranormal
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 387
POV: 1st person, past tense
Format: Kindle Book
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
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.

Highlights: Mary Shelley Black1 is smart, sharp-witted, independent, and completely fabulous as a narrator. She's not some weak-willed girl, and I adored her for that aspect of her personality. The conclusion was mostly a surprise, and even though I did guess a few small aspects, Winters threw a few more twists my way. The importance of family was wonderful, especially Aunt Eva's presence throughout the story. Even the very bittersweet romance was nicely portrayed. The ghost aspect was entirely different than what I assumed it would be, which caused this novel to become a very refreshing story. All in all, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS is likely incredibly different from what you may expect, and completely worth your time. 

Lowlights: I set it aside for a few weeks after reading a couple chapters. While there were many interesting moments, I was never 100% compelled to read straight-through. But, I was probably in a book slump at that time. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf. A wonderfully descriptive historical novel featuring a fabulous main character, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS is worth checking out. 

1 My gosh, her name is a mouthful (but still a very awesome literary name and a nice nod to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein).


  1. Great review, Lea--I'm glad you enjoyed this one, too! I know what you mean about putting a book aside for awhile. I did this with Perfect Ruin and when I finally got back to it, I turned out loving it!

    1. It's a great story, right? So much better than I expected!

  2. Great review…I like your whole highlight/lowlight reviews. This one sounds like I would have to be in the mood to read it. I love the main character's name…so fun! I like that there are some surprising moments in this novel….I'll be adding it to my TBR list.

    1. Why, thank you! It makes reviewing a bit easier for certain books :)

      Her name is awesome! You should check it out.

  3. Sharp witted and intelligent is a wonderful way for a main character to be.

    1. Definitely. I like reading about MC's who use their intelligence in stories, it makes everything more interesting.

  4. Awesome review :D Ah, I really, really loved this book. <3 I'm glad you mostly enjoyed it as well :) Mary Shelley was such an amazing character, wasn't she? Sigh.