Thursday, June 19, 2014 17:33

Review 267. Cat Winters – In the shadow of blackbirds.

13112915Title: In the shadow of blackbirds.
Author: Cat Winters.
Pages: 387.
Published: April 2nd 2013 by Amulet Books.
Sort: Stand-alone, historical + paranormal.
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?
Rating:

When I began this book I had high expectations. I love everything that has to do with diseases – even if it’s just a small element-  and the author knows what she is talking about. It was such a well-written story with an amazing protagonist and a scary mystery.

Mary Shelly fled from her home when they took her father as prisoner. On her way it’s obvious that the country is in desperation. The Spanish influenza claims lives every day and there is a constant fear of losing loved ones on the battlefield. People do anything in their desperation; séances and spirit photographers are more than happy to provide them with comfort for a good price. Mary doesn’t believe in all that nonsense, until Julian (Stephen’s brother) takes her picture and Stephen’s ghost appears on the background. Stephen is her childhood lover and he signed up to go to war. His ghost haunts her now and it’s up to her to help him find peace. She must find out what happened to him.

This story was spooky and the addition of real photographs created an extra creepy atmosphere. I loved it! The photographs made it even easier to connect with the story. It’s not difficult to understand why people gave so much money for a picture with their deceased loved ones. I liked how scientific Mary was and how she didn’t believe in those spirit photographers until she gets visitations from Stephen’s ghost. He has no rest and keeps telling her that the blackbirds are killing him. He came to the right place, because Mary is a very intelligent, determined young girl. She’s not afraid and despite her sadness, she is capable of clever decisions. I don’t think I could be as tough as she was, because his ghost terrified me.

The mystery was fantastic and I was surprised by the conclusion. I had my suspicions, but she blew me away with the climax. It’s also obvious that Cat Winters did her research on this subject. The Spanish Flu and all the ways people tried to prevent an infection were nicely incorporated. I could feel everyone’s fear, especially from Mary’s aunt. I wish there were more books with such accurate portrayal of an infection disease.

The only thing that let me down was the romance. Stephen and Mary had a fling in the past, but there are only some short moments in the form of flashbacks. I didn’t get enough time to see their love, which gave his death less impact. I wish I felt more sadness in the beginning. It was better towards the ending when the story is wrapped up. I’m going to keep an eye on her next book for sure.
author image

Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

25 comments:

  1. Just added it to my TBR list-great review today :)

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  2. I've heard good things about this one, though I don't think I've read a review as in depth of yours - it sounds so good from your review! I love that it is accurate and detailed, and creepy! :) I hope to pick this one up soon!

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  3. I'd heard about this one around when it first came out but it had completely slipped my mind since then. Great review - It's reminded me that I should definitely pick this one up in the future!

    Em @ Books & Cleverness

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  4. This books looks so good!! I haven't heard much about it, but it sounds really interesting.
    Great review :D

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  5. I loved this book as well and like you, I was surprised by the conclusion. I did not see that coming! Great review, Mel! :)

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  6. Aw, YAY :D Amazing review Mel. <3 I'm so so so glad that you loved this book too. Sigh. You are making me want to re-read it :) I just loved it so much. I adored the romance. But yes. I also felt like there was too little :( I wanted more. Sniffs. But I did love the little moments too. <3

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  7. Ohh, I never knew this book was about diseases! It's also great that it's been done well! And there's photographs too?! -immediately adds to TBR list-

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    1. Two awesome things together in one book :D

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  8. Wow the cover is something else! I loved the summary of the book and I loved your thoughts on it!

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  9. I loved this one too! I read it during my blogging break, and I'm planning a reread so I can review it on my blog because I think it deserves as much attention as possible. Like you, I loved the setting and the creepiness, and I cannot wait for The Cure for Dreaming! Great review, Mel! :D

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  10. I don't think there's a better feeling than going into a book with high expectation and STILL being blow away by it's awesomeness :D I am thrilled you loved this one Mel!! It's been on my tbr shelf since before it came out but seeing how you loved it only made me more excited to pick this one up ^^ Mary sounds like the kind of MC you can get behind and root for and the mystery element to the plot really makes me curious. The setting and the creepy factor are also bit plusses for an original and engaging read! Absolutely wonderful review Mel ^^ xxxx

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    1. Definitely! High expectations and those are achieved? Great.! :D

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  11. Eeeee <33 reading positive reviews for this one just makes me so happy, I love it when people read a book I loved and also enjoyed it.

    This one was so atmospheric, and those pictures were just such a cool and unique addition. They definitely added to the eerie and creepy feel of the book. In the Shadow of Blackbirds was definitely well researched, I felt like I was truly transferred to this dark and grim time reading the story. Everything was rich in detail and the research put into this book was outstanding. I also did admire Mary Shelley, she was definitely clever and very resourceful. Alike you, I would't have been able to keep my head with everything going on.

    Great review girl! (: And did you see that Cat Winters' newest book is on Netgalley?? I requested it a couple days back but haven't heard anything back yet, fingers crossed that I do c: I'm so excited to read more of her work.

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    1. Reading positive reviews for books you've loved is the best thing! This book wouldn't have been the same without those photographs, they truly completed the story :) I've seen her book, but I haven't requested it (yet) Too many books for now, haha.

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  12. :D I'm so excited you loved this one Mel! It's so creepy, but in absolutely the best way possible. I love love love the pictures, which lend such a cool reality to the story while also adding to the creep-factor. I'm seriously so excited to read her new book. Great review!

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  13. Yay! A mystery that is ACTUALLY a mystery! Suspicions are normal, but I'm relieved to see that it blew you away. It's a bit disappointing that the romance wasn't as impactful, therefore the death wasn't, but if this is a new favorite, I can't NOT want to read it :)

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  14. Nicole just loved this one. I really enjoyed it as well. My biggest regret was not paying enough attention, I listened to the audio book and felt like I was missing things. One day I would like to reread :)

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

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    1. I think this book works better as physical copy, with all the photographs :)

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  15. I'm glad that you've reviewed this as I've seen this around a bit but hadn't read many opinions on it. It looks interesting, and despite the fact that I do have a fear of Ghosts, I do think this sounds like a good story! Glad you enjoyed it - hopefully I'll get the chance to read it soon!

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    1. Don't read this before you go to sleep and you'll be fine, haha.

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  16. I'm not sure if I remember correctly, but I think Giselle (Xpresso Reads) loved it way back when she read it and I'm so glad you loved it too! Great mysteries are always awesome and yay for awesome characters. Sorry the romance wasn't exactly your cup of tea, but I'm still glad you enjoyed this story so much :)

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  17. I've heard very good things about this book, and I'm glad you enjoyed it as well! I think I need to add it to my (ever growing) TBR list. Plus, that cover is so perfectly creepy and atmospheric. Great review, girl!

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  18. Ah yay! So glad to hear you enjoyed this one. It's one of my favorites, too. One thing that blew me away was just how well-researched it was and how it just completely brought you into that terrifying era! I'm also super excited to see what she comes up with in Cure for Dreaming!

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  19. I've had my eye on this one since last year and now it's 2014 and I still haven't read it. Ha! I love spooky reads. I like terrifying myself and I've never really read a book with pictures, but it looks like In Shadow of Blackbirds is the perfect book to start. Anyway, I'm curious as to why you like books about diseases. :)

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