In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters (Amulet, 2013) is a page-turning mystery/horror/romance/ghost story of great riveting-ness.   Set in California toward the end of WW I, the Spanish Influenza is an overwhelming nightmare, boys are coming back from the war horribly maimed and shell shocked, and 16 year old Mary Shelley Black's father has just been arrested for helping boys dodge the draft.

Her aunt Eva takes her in--not an old fussy aunt, but a 26 year old working making battleships, grieving for her dead husband (tb) and her lost youth, and rather fascinated by the work of a young spirit photographer, Julius.   Who Mary hates.  Mary loved Julius' young step-brother, Stephan, and they had one all to short sweet bit of passion before Stephan went to war.....and now Julius is there, and Stephan isn't.

Mary's hopes that Stephen is still alive proof unfounded.  He is dead.  There is his coffin.

And then she gets struck by lightning, and all supernatural heck breaks loose.

Because Stephen begins to haunt her.  And Stephen is suffering the tortures of the damned.

Mary cannot find peace until she can help him, and so a dark unwinding of fact and spirit and treachery and death begins....

I would have read this in a single sitting even if I hadn't been reading it for the 48 Hour Challenge.   I am not sure if I blinked as much as I should have.   Huge emotional punch, huge emotional wrenchings, great characters, and fascinating plot.  At least I think there was all that, but I was so busy reading I wasn't thinking.  Just feeling.

I'll leave it at that.  


  1. I've been curious about this one because of the photography angle--will have to give it a try!

  2. That sounds fantastic! I hadn't heard of In the Shadow of Blackbirds before--thanks for the heads up. Happy 48HBC!

  3. I'd wondered about this one. I think I'm going to have to check it out.

  4. This one has yet to be dethroned as my favorite of the year.


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