In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters
Publication: 2nd April 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
Buy It: AmazonIn 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.
I loved this book, what a fresh, intriguing and somewhat creepy story that will have you sitting with the lights burning all night long.
I enjoyed the concept of the storyline, so different from what is out there at the moment in terms of subject matter.
To intersperse World War 2, Spanish Influenza and Spiritual Photography which were all prevalent around the same time period, makes for a novel that is at no time boring and which has piqued my interest in some of the history that made this story so unique.
Set in 1918, extending towards the conclusion of the War, Mary Shelley makes for a strong heroine, personally affected by the War, when she discovers that her childhood friend and potential love interest Stephen has become a casualty of War she is devastated, and then at his funeral she starts to hear him talking to her and then not long after she begins to see his spirit, Stephen can't move on, his death isn't as cut and dried as everybody has been led to believe.
His older brother convinces Mary to sit for a spiritualistic photo (which he's become famed for) in hopes that Stephen's spirit will appear in the developed portrait, but is he a fraud or is he honestly capturing the ghostly forms of friends, family members and soldiers who have been killed on the battlefield.
This book had a very well thought out and executed plot and ending that had me wiping away a few tears, so invested I was in Cat Winters wonderful characterisations.
With the added addition of archived spiritual photographs taken from that time period, that will give you shivers down the spine, their inclusion gave this story an added depth and realisticness that had me fascinated and certainly creeped out all at the same time.
I highly recommend this book, such a great read that will definitely be re-read by myself at some point.
I give this 4/5.