Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

I requested this book because Lauren DeStefano told me I had to read it, and I trust her opinion :) Then I was lucky enough to actually get a review copy of this book. I started it as soon as I was able to. And I loved it. In the Shadow of Blackbirds was amazing. I enjoyed the writing, and I loved the characters. I also very much liked the time it was set in, the things that were happening. It was exciting and scary and heartbreaking. I loved every moment. Even when the words and pages were killing me.

I must admit that for the first one hundred pages I thought this would be a boring book. But then more things started happening, and I could not put this book down. At all. And now when I think back to those first pages, I can see that they were actually pretty amazing. I cannot wait to read this book again, when I get my hardcover. <3 It is such a perfect, amazing book.

This book takes place in 1918. I have never been into history, so I don't really know anything about that time, except for the Spanish Influenza, which I've only read a tiny bit about in another book. Didn't know much about the war with the Germans either, until I read this book. We get to see so much about the flu. And it all killed me. So much heartbreak. So many dead. I almost puked because of all the garlic. But oh. It was all so interesting to read about. I loved it. Really, really loved.

The main character is Mary Shelley. She is an amazing lead character. She's different from the other girls and women, she isn't as careful as all of them. She's like her mother, who died giving birth to her, wild and fun and likes to figure things out. I really loved reading about her. To me she is Shell, which I like. She's just so perfect. Kind and loving and very sweet. Since it is in the middle of the war, a lot of awful things happens. Like her father getting arrested for treason against America and put in jail.

Shell then have to travel to her aunt, far away. I kind of liked Aunt Eva. I'm not sure yet how I felt about her. At first I kind of hated her. She was so.. weird. Proper. And not very nice. But I did start to like her, slowly. Because she really does care about her niece. I think. I mostly liked her at least. They live in San Diego, and I loved reading about the place. The things they did, the things they saw. There is just so much in this book. Too much to mention. But there is a few things I must talk about. Sniffs.

Shell have had a best friend since she was little. She's sixteen now. His name is Stephen. They used to spend so much time together a few years back, before he moved. I loved the way they wrote letters to each other. It was just very sweet, and their friendship seemed so amazing and sweet. And their small romance as well. Before her father's capture, Shell goes to visit her aunt, in the same town that Stephen is living with his family. And oh. I loved seeing the flashback of their first meeting after years apart.

But ahh. Stephen has this older brother, Julius, who is a total asshole. You have no idea how much I hated him. He walked in on Stephen and Shell kissing, and he said some awful untrue things about them. It did not end well. And it killed me. Because they should have had more time together. They should have. But I did love that little time. But then Shell leaves, and Stephen is leaving for the war. He's eighteen. And he also just lost his dad, so he's kind of heartbroken. He just need some time away.

Why he thought the war was a good idea I do not know. It was just so heartbreaking. And this book just killed me. Anyway. Julius is some kind of spiritual photographer. He's a cheat, but there is no evidence against him. He gets paid to take pictures of people, where a dead loved one also shows up. There is a lot about that in this book. Which I kind of liked. It was very interesting to read about. But it also made me sad so many times. The whole book did. And right now my heart is breaking all over again.

As you have read from the summary, Stephen dies. In the war. Just when Shell has moved to her Aunt Eva. And my god. It is so awful and cruel and I hated it. But I also loved it, because it was amazing. But so, so sad. I won't say much more about the plot. Just that there is so much to read about, and I never wanted it to end. Must mention one thing more. Stephen comes back as a spirit, because he's hurting. That killed me even more. But oh. I loved that Shell could touch him and such. Still, heartbreaking.

We learn so much in this book. About the flu. About the war. And about how Stephen died. Why he has come back, sort of, as a spirit. I kept wishing that he wouldn't be dead. But yeah. I'm guessing you can't come as a spirit if you are still alive. But I wished. And wished. In the Shadow of Blackbirds is painful. It broke my heart so much. But it is so amazing. I could not stop reading it. I never wanted it to end. And I would so love a sequel, but also not, because of the ending. Sigh. I'm conflicted about my feelings.

I liked the ending of this book. I hated the ending of this book. It is perfect, though. It really is. And it couldn't have ended any other way. Just me and my wishes. But yeah. I loved the ending. I loved the entire book. It's very mysterious and exciting and romantic, in a way. I loved reading about Stephen and Shell. Even if it did break my heart into a million pieces. I loved figuring out what had happened to Stephen. About the blackbirds. Even though it was so awful and it made me cry. But so good and real.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is an amazing book. One you really need to read. The beginning might be a bit slow, but once it starts getting more amazing you can't put this book down. So I'm giving it five stars, because I loved it so much. Really hoping for some deleted scenes from this book. <3 I am forever thankful to Amulet Books UK for sending me an ARC copy of this book. I loved it so much. Thank you :)
I read this book on January 30th. And I cannot wait to read it again and again. <3

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Update: Newer and better review of the book can be found here.


  1. I just finished reading this and it was so hard to read about everyone's panic as well as some of the more intense war scenes. I cannot believe about the person who did that to Stephen-just heartbreaking!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the ending and Mary as a main character.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. I've come to realise that Lauren DeStefano's recommendations are pretty brilliant. :) I remember she was excited about The Hallowed Ones, too, and that turned out to be a great read for me. You know I felt the same way about this book. I completely agree about Stephen. It was heart-breaking to see him return broken like that, and a part of me also wished he hadn't actually died. I even teared up at one point! And I completely understand how you feel about the ending. But you're right, it couldn't have ended any other way.

    Brilliant review, Carina!

    1. lol, yes :) Very true. Lauren DeStefano is pretty awesome as well, though :D She recs awesome books, and I think I need to check out more of her recs ;p Oh yes. Sigh. The things about Stephen were just so heartbreaking.. but also so perfect, in a way. I really need to re-read this book soon :D Thank you sweetie. <3 :)

  4. I have never read anything by this author- but this book sounds fascinating! The cover is very intriguing. Thanks for your helpful review- it is good to know that things pick up after page 100. :)

    1. Yay :) I really think you should pick it up :D It's just so so amazing. <3

  5. This sounds pretty good, like a perfect combination of beauty and pain! :)


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