In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
This book put me through an emotional ringer.
I loved every bit of it.
I've be interested in the time period and the forgotten Pandemic of 1918 for sometime now, and curious in how Cat Winters would show this in her work. She nailed it. Down to the small details of how people reacted to those seemly healthy individuals dropping dead the next moment. Then you have soldiers coming from the trenches of the First World War, broken and soul-sick from the bloodshed. The dread, the helplessness and slowly creepiness just came from the pages in each amazing word after another.
People of this time needed something to hang onto when the world around them is falling apart. Here spiritualism took hold, with false sprint photography and fake séances ruled.
Here in this crazy world is Mary Shelley Black dealing with her father thrown into jail called a traitor, and an Aunt who doesn't understand her and is ruled by this new spiritualism. The only thing that seems solid in this crazy world is her friend, first love, maybe soulmate, Stephen, whose stuck in those dark trenches. Until one day, he is taken from her. Until one day his unrestful ghost appears to her asking for peace and help.
I really felt for Mary Shelly, living in a world that has gone upside down, she somehow keeps in together, slowly putting the puzzle pieces together about Stephen's last days. Yet, along with seeing her weak moments, she gets up time again to prove how strong in spirit she is, how she hates the flue masks she sees everywhere, the fear of of not being "too" patriotic American, she hates the fear she sees in everyone. Yet, her strength even in the face of death is brilliant and strong.
You get glimpses of this period of time through pictures that just add to the creepy and dread feeling that haunts this book. This book is haunting, and heartbreaking as all the puzzle pieces fall into place, not only shocked me, but broke my heart from the uselessness of it all..
Still there is hope, light through the darkness in the end if not bittersweet. Even this isn't an easy book, it had a harsh beauty ringed with Cat Winters words that made it all worth it in the end.
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