Wednesday, 22 May 2013


In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In a city filled with the dead and dying, while a nightmarish war rages halfway across the world, the grieving look for answers in photographs and seances. It's 1918. San Diego. And a girl who doesn't believe in spirits steps off the train and into a new life...

First off, I just want to say how beautiful this book is. The cover is great, the actual book under the dust jacket is surprisingly pretty and the design work carries on to the pages as well. It's a stunning book. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite as impressed with the story.

It's my own fault, really. I was drawn to this book because of the mention of spirit photographs and seances. I overlooked the mention of "a nightmarish war rages halfway across the world." If you visited this blog before, you might know that war bores me thoroughly. I do not like to read about it and I go out of my way to avoid books set in times of war. So I should have been more careful, because this book has more war stuff than anything else. The spirit photographs and the seances are really just the set dressing in this book about the war. If anything, the key story here is about shell-shocked soldiers, I think. The supernatural stuff is what interested me, though, and I wish there had been more of that.

That being said, I thought the writing was very good. This is Cat Winters debut novel and - as long as the description doesn't mention war - I'll happily read her next book. The writing is fresh and lively and, though I kind of felt that the main character Mary Shelley Black was the stereotypical over-correction to avoid a stereotypical character - I really hope that sentence makes sense in other people's heads - I did enjoy reading quite a lot of this book. It's just unfortunate that the all the war-related things left me cold.

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