by Cat Winters
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books (April 2, 2013)
Buy on Amazon
Mark on Goodreads
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.
I just want to preface this review by saying SO MANY PEOPLE like this book. I picked it up because two of my favorite authors loved it, and it's got great ratings on Goodreads. As I read it, I was reminded of Masque of the Red Death, which many people loved, and I didn't finish, so there ya go.
At a Glance:
In the Shadow of Blackbirds was an eerie historical fantasy about World War I, Spanish Influenza, hauntings, creepy photographs, and a girl trying to figure out the mystery behind the death of her new found love. Though it had moments of suspense, I found the story to be too slow and the writing too stiff for my taste. In the end, there just wasn't enough. Not enough creepiness, not enough mystery, not enough connection to the characters, not enough romance, not enough believability, just not enough.
I love the cover! It was one of the things that drew me to this book. It's so ominous, and the goggles are perfect, and it's almost exactly like the book describes this photograph.
This is the most compelling thing about the book, and what kept me hanging in there, trying to finish it. About 4/5 through I pretty much gave up, but I did skim the ending because I just had to know what happened to Stephen.
The romance started out sweet, and I love that they're childhood friends, and that Stephen appreciates all of Mary Shelley's oddities, but I just didn't end up liking it. Their relationship was awkward. Then when Stephen's ghost appears to Marry Shelley, he's almost hostile. Then, there was this awful scene that one clever reviewer on Goodreads called "outercourse" (I almost died laughing when I read that, but it's SO accurate). It was just....no. It didn't work for me. At all.
I did like Mary Shelley. She was odd and smart. I liked the way that she would tinker with machines and things. She didn't always make the smartest decisions (lightning), but she was definitely the only intelligent person in the book.
Favorite Supporting Character:
I didn't like anyone. Seriously, there isn't one supporting character that I liked or even liked to hate.
Something I loved:
The photographs that were placed throughout the book. They were awesome and creepy! I was especially creeped out by the seance photo. *shivers*
Something(s) I hated:
Mary Shelley's aunt. She was one of the most annoying characters I've ever read in my life. She was nervous and whiny and annoying and just plain stupid.
Nope, this one wrapped up completely. I assume it's a stand-alone.
Would I recommend it?
I would recommend it to those who liked Masque of the Red Death, or if you really enjoy this time period. I know there are tons of people out there who did like it, so give it a shot, you may love it!
Did my friends like it?
When I said I was reading this on Twitter, I had multiple people (including Leigh Bardugo) say how much they liked it!
Will I buy/keep it?
Nope, in fact, I think I'll give it away right now. Comment below to enter!
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
- Profanity: Mild
- Sexual Content: Moderate
- Violence: Moderate
- Other Notables: Seances, ghosts, hauntings
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