In the Shadow of Blackbirds - YA Review by AJ G

Reader: AJ G
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:  I had a few issues with this book. First of all, it seemed as if the author couldn't decide between psuedo-steampunk or historical fiction. I would have been able to enjoy it a lot more if it been one or the other. The next potential problem was the sort of lack of character development. The only character the book who ever changed or grew was already dead. I would've liked to see more personal growth in the main character, and not in the way she did change, which brings me to my next issue. The main character starts off as a skeptic, but gradually begins to lose that as she gets pulled into the spirit world. My main issue with this is that she loses he skepticism by dying and coming back to life. I'm going to be frank, I very seriously dislike this as a plot device. I think it's sort of lazy, and that there are better ways of getting your character from skepticism to belief.
Memorable or Forgettable: I think that this book definitely has some appeal. It has a strong female lead character, there's an element of romance, and the setting is very compelling. However, I find the plot fairly forgettable. The paranormal aspect could have been done better, and I would have liked the psychological thriller parts to be a little more nuanced. But I can definitely see this book doing well.
Cover:  I think the cover is really well done. Spirit photography plays a huge role in the plot, so I really loved seeing a spirit photograph as the cover. This is taken right from the book, too, which makes it even better. On top of that, I think it's bold and striking, and it has pretty good shelf appeal.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

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

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