In the Shadow of Blackbirds // Cat Winters

Surely, though, I must have stolen into the future and landed in an H.G. Wells-style world–a horrific, fantastical society in which people’s faces contained only eyes, millions of healthy young adults and children dropped dead from the flu, boys got transported out of the country to be blown to bits, and the government arrested citizens for speaking the wrong words. Such a place couldn’t be real. And it couldn’t be the United States of America, ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’
But it was.
I was on a train in my own country, in a year the devil designed.
1918.

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Title: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year of Publication: 2013
Awards: 2014 Morris Award Finalist

Set during the 1918 influenza epidemic, Mary Shelley Black sets out to find Stephen, her childhood friend and romantic interest. Instead, Mary finds his cruel brother: a man who profits off of the families of those affected by the flu by claiming to commune with the dead through spirit photography. Mary sets out to find the truth about what happened to her dearest friend.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is rich in language and darkly atmospheric. Mary Shelley Black is a wonderfully headstrong female protagonist during an era where such characteristics are not looked upon with favor.  Winters masterfully crafts a captivating historical fiction novel. She deftly fleshes out a fictitious storyline against a historically accurate backdrop.

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