In the Shadow of Blackbirds - YA Review by Sophie D

Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pub Date: 04/02/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  This book was very interesting, as it told the story of two things that aren't usually focused on in books about World War I: the Spanish influenza and Spiritualism. The combination of the real world and the supernatural was very compelling, as each seemed bizarre and surreal in its own way. However, there was a serious lack of character development, and several gaping holes in the story of the book. I feel like there needed to be more effort spent trying to make the events believable and and relate more to each other. There are so many different elements going on that it can be difficult to follow at times, and at others, the way the characters act is totally unreasonable. I think some more editing could have helped.
Memorable or Forgettable: I find Spiritualism fascinating, so that aspect of the book interested me a lot. It was also very atmospheric, and it was wonderfully creepy. I did like Mary Shelley as a character, she was interesting, independent, and her quirks made sense. I just wish that she could have changed a little over the course of the book.
Cover: I really like this cover. It is actually supposed to be a picture taken of the main character by a photographer who takes pictures of people being visited by spirits. Another great visual element of the book was that it seamlessly incorporated pictures of doctors, health warnings,  and ghost photography from the time period. I absolutely loved that, it really added to the atmosphere of the book.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: 1918 is a grim year for America. Each day, American soldiers die at the front, and at home the Spanish influenza seems to be claiming just as many lives. Mary Shelley Black finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of supposed treason, horrific diseases and injuries, and the existence of haunting spirits.

tags: historical fiction / World War II / supernatural / vintage photographs / BFYA nominee / ya lit

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