Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

genre: young adult historical fiction/paranormal

Mary Shelley lives at a very difficult time.   After she arrives in San Diego to live with her aunt, sixteen year old Mary realizes that southern California isn't any different than Portland: World War I is still raging and the Spanish flu is sneaking into everyone's lives, one way or another. When she gets word that the boy she loved and sent off to war has died, suddenly the spiritualism she's been mocking takes on a different meaning.  In a world where photographs tell false tales and the horror of war changes lives even if it doesn't take them, Mary has to found out how to help her boy be at peace without loosing her own mind.

I started this book knowing nothing, so its trek into the paranormal totally surprised me.  It's a solid piece of historical fiction, I think, and the ghostly/spirit aspect, that plays into the spiritualism that was all the rage at the time, was very intriguing and, frankly, sometimes totally freaky.  She can write some freaky ghosty scenes, I tell you.  Mary is an interesting character - with her love of science and heavy boots, she's not your average young woman of the time, but she's forced to live in a world that is crumbling, literally, into pieces.  As a piece of historical fiction, as a murder mystery, as a paranormal love story, In the Shadow of Blackbirds introduces us to a time period that we forget about - and keeps us guessing until the end.  Sometimes it moved a little slow and sometimes Mary was a little bit too bizarre for me to believe (those goggles?) but in the end, I am glad I stuck with it.

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