Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
Praise for In The Shadow of Blackbirds
STARRED REVIEW "Winters's masterful debut novel is an impressively researched marriage of the tragedies of wartime, the 1918 flu epidemic, the contemporaneous Spiritualism craze, and a chilling love story and mystery."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
STARRED REVIEW "More than anything, this is a story of the breaking point between sanity and madness, delivered in a straightforward and welcoming teen voice."
--Booklist, starred review
STARRED REVIEW "Winters deftly combines mystery, ghost story, historical fiction, and romance. Excellent pacing and deliciously creepy descriptions..."
--School Library Journal, starred review
"This engrossing combination of historical fiction, ghost story, psychological thriller, and straight-up whodunit moves between genres with stunning ease, maximizing the tropes of each to satisfying effect."
--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Winters strikes just the right balance between history and ghost story, neatly capturing the tenor of the times, as growing scientific inquiry collided with heightened spiritualist curiosity."
"Mary Shelley is a likable, sympathetic heroine, and through her story, teen readers will get a glimpse of a fascinating time period, made all the more real by the haunting historic photographs that pepper the novel, from soldiers in trenches to policemen in gauze masks. Part romance, part mystery and part ghost story, In the Shadow of Blackbirds makes palpable a terrifying time that brought the horror of death into the homes of millions."
"One of the creepiest (in a good way) covers of the season What's inside, historical Y.A. set at the time of the Spanish influenza, is equally haunting."
--The Atlantic Wire
"Cat Winter's debut novel is creepy good."
--The Boston Globe
"Romance fans will love Stephen's ghostly visits to Mary Shelley, confirming that their romance is as steamy as ever. Mystery lovers will enjoy the satisfactory resolution of the puzzle. Recommend this title to fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners."
"In this book, the passion of first love and the paranoia of the times are realistically and movingly rendered."
"Beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I enjoyed everything about this book."
--The Statesman Journal
William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist 2014
School Library Journal Best Book of 2013
2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-02-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black lives up to her striking name—she’s a curious girl fascinated by science, living in 1918, “a year the devil designed,” as Mary puts it. With WWI raging on and Mary’s father on trial for treason, she goes to live with her Aunt Eva in San Diego, Calif., even as influenza sweeps across America, devastating the population and rendering those left behind paranoid and weary. Grieving for her childhood beau Stephen, who died while fighting overseas with the Army, Mary goes outside during a thunderstorm and is struck dead by lightning—for a few minutes. When Mary comes to, she discovers she can communicate with the dead, including Stephen. Winters’s masterful debut novel is an impressively researched marriage of the tragedies of wartime, the 1918 flu epidemic, the contemporaneous Spiritualism craze, and a chilling love story and mystery. Unsettling b&w period photographs appear throughout, à la Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, greatly adding to the novel’s deliciously creepy atmosphere. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Agency. (Apr.)
Searching for answers in a time of death and disease
The year is 1918, and wherever 16-year-old Mary Shelley Black turns, she is confronted with people’s fears of the deadly Spanish influenza. Desperate attempts to ward off or cure the disease abound: Victims are smothered in raw onions; the uninfected wear pouches reeking of supposed medicines around their necks to prevent getting sick; and soldiers returning from WWI have been quarantined. Nothing is certain.
After her father’s arrest for opposing the war, Mary Shelley sets out from Portland to stay with her Aunt Eva in San Diego, where it seems that everyone she meets is wearing a gauze mask to try to protect themselves from this horrible disease.
In the wake of the Great War, it’s no wonder that people are turning to superstition and séances to make sense of the mystery of death. In the weeks that follow her arrival in California, Mary Shelley is confronted with a mystery only she can solve: What exactly has happened to Stephen, the young soldier she loves so deeply? Was he a victim of the battlefield, or was there another, even darker reason for his death?
Mary Shelley is a likable, sympathetic heroine, and through her story, teen readers will get a glimpse of a fascinating time period, made all the more real by the haunting historic photographs that pepper the novel, from soldiers in trenches to policemen in gauze masks. Part romance, part mystery and part ghost story, In the Shadow of Blackbirds makes palpable a terrifying time that brought the horror of death into the homes of millions.