„In the Shadow of Blackbirds“ is a book with a slow start, but I promise you, I’d even bet, that once you get to page 90, exactly page 90 and 91, you don’t want to put it down again. Just keep going until then, and make me pay for it if I’m not right.
After finishing the book, I learned that this is Cat Winters‘ debut novel, and I still can’t quite believe it. Especially the horror genre is always tricky, and when you add historical fiction and YA into the mix it’s almost always going to be a bit of a disaster. But not „In the Shadow of Blackbirds“.
The setting and the characters seem so real, and almost scarily relatable. Scary, because the novel is set almost 100 years ago, during World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. It’s as far away as it gets, but maybe just the right novel at just the right moment in time (by that I mean with everything that is happening in 2014 and 2015, epidemics, warfare and all…).
With everything that is happening to the main character, Mary Shelley Black (yes, named after that Mary Shelley) is as strong as they come. You’d think that during that time, the girls were all just pretty to look at and mourning after their loved ones lost in the war or because of the war… well, let me tell you one thing. Mary Shelley isn’t mourning she is fighting for them. I don’t think I was this proud of a female main character in a book in a long time. If I’d had lived in her time, I hope I would have been like her. Strong, nerdy and smart, with no intentions of hiding any of it.
As it is a book in the horror genre, it will confront you with ghosts and spirits in a way you might have never imagined them. It is dark and chilling and might give you nightmares. And I can’t even say that’s okay, because I still turn around a little paranoid when I hear an unexpected knock in our house.
I gave it 4, maybe 4.5 stars, because it was great, but it left me with a sense of „it could have been even better“. Some stories just work out that way.
P.S.: For a special kick, put the book in your bookshelf with the cover looking out, and see everyone who walks past it stop and jump. I highly recommend that to bookshops as well.