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Into The Light Of The Dark Black Night

Cat Winters' In The Shadow of Blackbirds is a beautiful ghost story set in 1918's California. 

Into The Light Of The Dark Black Night

BOOK REPORT for In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Cover Story: Falsely Steampunk
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Prosetastic
Bonus Factors: Spiritualism, Herbal Remedies, Photographs
Relationship Status: True Love

Cover Story: Falsely Steampunk

I actually really like this cover, and it totally, absolutely ties into the story. But if I haven't read the story yet, the goggles would have totally thrown me.

The Deal:

It's 1918, and the world is ending. At least, that's what it seems like for Mary Shelley Black, sent to live with her aunt after her father is arrested for protesting The War. Schools are closed, the whole country is paranoid, and The Flu has hit. All Mary Shelley can do is watch as people around her die, and their grief-stricken loved ones get caught up in what she's sure are scams -- the spirit photographers. She wants to prove they're fake, but then her first love, who died in battle, starts appearing to her, and she becomes consumed with finding out why he's not at rest, and how she can help him.

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

I wish Mary Shelley Black was a real person in history, because I have a feeling she'd be my hero. She is one of those fantastic early feminists who doesn't have to pretend at anything -- she just thinks logically, and expects everyone else to do the same. She's funny and charming and scarily smart, and even when she reached her lowest point, when she thinks there's just no life to live anymore, she had my respect if not my approval of her actions.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Good gracious, the swoon. Mary Shelley's interactions with Stephen will start flames in your pants, but more than that, it is one of the sweetest of love stories. Thanks to letters and flashbacks you get to watch a relationship develop over years that aches in its tenderness.

Talky Talk: Prosetastic

This book is beautifully written. It contains that certain something I like to call unputdownablism, and satisfies even while it hurts. The author researched her history well, and brings to life San Diego in 1918 with gorgeous descriptives. The story unfolds in delightfully creepy layers that chill and soothe alternately, and left me tired, a little saddened, and thoroughly satisfied.  You might want to heed the DNRIP warning, though.

Bonus Factor: Spiritualism

Not gonna lie, I am fascinated by the Spiritualism movement of the turn of the century. From séances to phrenology to spirit photographs, it's all so very interesting, don't you think?

Bonus Factor: Herbal Remedies

Winters spends a lot of time and detail on the day to day of trying to ward off the Spanish Influenza, and let me tell you, that must have been one hell of a smelly time. I mean, I LOVE garlic and onions, and this book put even me off them. For a while.

Bonus Factor: Photographs

The pages of this book are peppered with photographs from the time, and not only are they beautiful, but they set the tone just right.

Casting Call:

Mae Whitman as Mary Shelley Black

She'll never be bland, I mean Ann again.

Bill Skarsgard as Stephen

Relationship Status: True Love

This book will stay with me always. I may move on to other experiences, other books, other loves, but I will always keep it with me -- on my shelf and in my heart.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.