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."
"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
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, la Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, greatly adding to the novel's deliciously creepy atmosphere. Ages 12 up.
Couldn’t put it down!
This book kept me up at night thinking over the plot and the characters. The story had my mind captivated. I read it so quickly I might just have to read it a second time. The author created such a beautiful scene in the time period and, it’s strange I read it at such a time when it’s almost relating to some of what’s going on in our world right now.
Definitely in my top 5. Such a perfect mi of eerie, mysterious, romantic, and heartwarming. Seriously could not put it down! Read it all in one day and he ending was not disappointing. A must read for sure!