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In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cover of In the Shadow of Blackbirds
In the Shadow of Blackbirds
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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?

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."

Kirkus Reviews

"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."

Bookpage

"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."

VOYA

"In this book, the passion of first love and the paranoia of the times are realistically and movingly rendered."

The Oregonian

"Beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I enjoyed everything about this book."

The Statesman Journal

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?

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."

Kirkus Reviews

"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."

Bookpage

"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."

VOYA

"In this book, the passion of first love and the paranoia of the times are realistically and movingly rendered."

The Oregonian

"Beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I enjoyed everything about this book."

The Statesman Journal

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.3
  • Lexile:
    800
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • Cat Wintersáwas born and raised near Disneyland in Southern California. She is the creator of suburbanvampire.blogspot.com, and she runs corsetsandcutlasses.wordpress .com, a group blog featuring authors of YA historical fiction. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 11, 2013
    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.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2013
    A bright young woman is caught between science and spiritualism in her quest to make sense of a world overcome with war and disease in 1918 California. Mary Shelley Black's world has been turned upside down by the arrest of her father at their home in Portland, Ore. It is 1918, and the country is at war; those who speak out against it, like her father, find themselves persecuted. Mary Shelley flees to her Aunt Eva in San Diego to avoid possible fallout from the arrest and since it might be a better place to wait out the influenza epidemic that is sweeping the country. Her new home allows her to reconnect with the family of her first love, Stephen, now a soldier fighting in the war. This place is just as full of anxiety and fear as Portland, the toll from war and disease sending her families grasping at anything to alleviate their pain. Stephen's distasteful half brother, Julius, exploits those fears and the growing interest in the occult by serving as a "spirit photographer"--an occupation Mary Shelley is skeptical of until Stephen is killed and she is visited by his ghost. 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. Vintage photographs contribute to the authenticity of the atmospheric and nicely paced storytelling. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from June 1, 2013

    Gr 8 Up-The year is 1918. World War I is killing millions of boys abroad, and the flu pandemic is killing millions of Americans at home. People are increasingly desperate, looking to Spiritualism and folk remedies to help them speak to dead loved ones and survive the flu. After her father is jailed for anti-Americanism, Mary Shelley Black, 16, must go live with her aunt in San Diego. There she is confronted with memories of her first love, Stephen, who is away at war. She is also forced to face Julius, Stephen's bully of an older brother who is making a fortune as a "Spiritualist Photographer," a photographer who can capture ghosts in images. She also meets Mr. Darning, a man with a broken heart who is trying to prove that Julius is a fake. After Mary Shelley learns of Stephen's "heroic" death, she is visited by his suffering ghost. His spirit is delusional and scared, and Mary Shelley suspects there is a terrible reason he's not at rest. Did Stephen really die on the frontline? How are Julius and Mr. Darning involved? Winters deftly combines mystery, ghost story, historical fiction, and romance. The character development is not deep, but the excellent pacing and deliciously creepy descriptions of Spiritualism more than make up for it; the story and setting are atmospheric and eerie. Black-and-white photos are scattered throughout the book, giving context to the time period.-Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Amulet Books
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