Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

August 8, 2013 Review 24 ★★★★½

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Amulet
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 387
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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 kept putting this book off for the longest time. Even with all positive reviews, I still did not think the book would be for me, especially after reading some less than stellar historical fiction like Code Name Verity.

World War I and the Influenza virus are killing millions in 1918. People are turning to the occult, trying to contact their lost friends and loved ones. Mary Shelley Black, a girl of just sixteen doesn’t believe in such things, until her first love returns to her after his death.

This book reminded me why I love historical fiction. Instead of teaching in the way a textbook does, it throws you into the story while still educating you. Written fantastically, you can imagine yourself being there in 1918 while feeling the despair of all the people that lived in that time.

More mystery than romance, the novel leaves you wondering not only about life after death, but what happened to Mary Shelley’s first love. It leaves you with questions, but makes sure you have answers to the most important ones.

IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS was creepy in all the best ways. It sticks with you, and might even leave you looking over your shoulder. It tells a great ghost story, but also a love story and mystery.

If you liked this review and found it helpful, please vote on Amazon here: In The Shadow of Blackbirds

Rating Report
Overall: 4.5

24 Responses to “Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters”

  1. Andreea

    Good ghost story? Another one to add to my wish list.

    Thanks to you, my wish list is growing really fast!

    Thanks for this review.

    I also heard great things about it, but I didn’t know if I’d like it since I rarely read YA historical fiction. I used to read a lot of historical fiction for adults back when I didn’t read YA.

    Andreea recently posted…Review: Enders (Starters and Enders #2) by Lissa Price

    • Alise

      Aha, it’s always nice to find new books to read :) Hmm, historical YA is one of my favorite genres and it’s not too different from Adult so I say give it a shot!

  2. Bookworm1858

    I really enjoyed this too-I didn’t know much about the influenza other than the death and panic it caused so I loved how that was the setting for this novel.
    Bookworm1858 recently posted…Wild Awake

  3. Nara

    I really enjoyed this book as well! I have to admit that it was a bit weird, but I definitely have to agree that the writing was quite good- instead of just reading about the world, it really felt like you were experiencing the events with the characters. Although I must say that personally I didn’t find the book overly creepy (then again I guess I don’t really find books scary in general haha).
    Nara recently posted…Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

    • Alise

      Yeah, it’s not scary scary but it can give you some chills, I think. The setting was my favorite part, you are right in saying you can really imagine the time period.

  4. Eve

    I’ve been avoiding this book (and Code Name Verity) because I’m not a big fan of historical fiction… it just never grabs me. Your review of this book is one of the many positive I’ve seen, though, so I’m starting to reconsider really hard about reading this book. Great review!
    Eve recently posted…Mary Sue’s Choice: Pizza Vs. Hamburger

    • Alise

      I can understand that, however, there is a huge distinction between Code Name Verity and that was that Code Name Verity was ridiculously slow and felt too much like a documentary. Not all historical fiction is like that so I hope you give this one a try :)

    • Alise

      Yeah it’s not hugely in your face scary but it definitely can give you the chills, especially at night! Hope you like it!

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