Title: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Historical Paranormal
Length: 387 pages
Bram Stoker Award (2013)
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2013)
William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2014)
Oregon Spirit Book Award for Young Adults (2013)
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2016)
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 seances 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.
My Rating5 stars
It is 1918 and the Spanish influenza has plagued the country. Mary Shelley Black is sent to San Diego, California to live with her Aunt Eva in hopes of escaping the sickness. Once there, her aunt insists she sit for spirit photographer Julius Embers, brother to Stephen Embers, whom is a childhood friend that she has been corresponding with since he went off to war. When Stephen's 'spirit' appears in her photograph it sets off a series of paranormal events that lead Mary Shelley to search out the truth of his death, even if it means getting a little too close for comfort.
This was an entertaining and semi-spooky ghost story without being overwhelming or an edge-of-your-seat, read-only-during-the-day, sleep-with-your-light-on kind of scary. I liked the historical plot which gave a feeling of dread and anticipation of death around every corner. The decades where seances were so popular has always fascinated me and this was the first time I've come across anything about spirit photography. I adore ghost stories but it is so rare to find one geared towards young adults and I really enjoyed it!