Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26, 2014: 'In the Shadow of Blackbirds'

Welcome to Book City
Date: November 26, 2014

Spoilers Ahead

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters

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.

City Calendar:
This is what happened during the week.
Mary Shelley gets to her aunt's house. She dreams about Stephen her love and the kiss they shared. She goes to Julius's photography studio and gets photographed and a present from Stephen. She talks to her aunt Eva about Stephen. She finds out that Stephen's dead. She finds out that her dad is on trial. Mary Shelley attempts to kill herself during a lightning storm but fails. She goes to Stephen's funeral and hears Stephen. She goes to Mr. Darning for a photo and talks about Stephen and the supernatural. She goes to the library afterwards and reads about lightning strikes and birds in war. She goes to a Red Cross Hospital. She reads Tom Sawyer to the soldiers. She goes home. Her aunt comes home with Julius who asks for a photo of Mary Shelley with spirits. Julius grabs Mary Shelley, and Aunt Eva demands for him to leave. Stephen comes in the night, talking to Mary Shelley. Mary Shelley goes to the Red Cross Hospital again and talks to one of Stephen's friends who says that Stephen was discharged early. Mr. Darning comes to see the compass phenomenon. Mary Shelley dreams of Stephen. She figures out that Stephen was at home when she got her photo done. Mary Shelley almost kills Oberon the bird because Stephen had a minor fear of birds. Gracie comes over and tells the truth, that Stephen was home at the time and that he shot himself. Mary Shelley speaks as Stephen. Aunt Eva gets the flu after Gracie leaves. Mr. Darning and Mary Shelley  go to Julius's house after Aunt Eva is taken, and Mary Shelley thinks she'll die. She finds out that Mr. Darning and Julius both helped make Stephen want to die. And that Stephen did shoot himself. By accident in an attempt to stop his attackers. She is knocked unconscious and finally lets Stephen go. She goes back into her body and is taken to the hospital. She wakes up after battling the flu and leaves the hospital after reading a letter written by Stephen and hidden by a photograph. She sees her aunt is well. Mary Shelley goes and sees all of Stephen's hidden photographs and taken them home. The war ends, and the people celebrate. 
And that's what happened this week.

Personal Ads:
Mary Shelley Black.
Strong. Determined. Girlfriend to now-dead soldier named Stephen. Scientist. Hit by lightning and becomes a spiritual magnet. Brave. Cares for those she loves. Will do anything to help her loved ones. Forward thinking. Rational. Slowly starts to believe in life-after-death. 

I feel like I'm not exactly on the same side of this book.
I like the supernatural elements. It's interesting. I like it. I thought I would be terrified by the supernatural elements. But they weren't too bad. It was simply a confused and lost teenager boy. It wasn't scary which is a good thing. The supernatural elements are ghosts. But they aren't ghosts turning to haunt anyone. This ghost just wants to be at peace. Isn't that what all ghosts want? Isn't that what they all should want?
The main character Mary Shelley is a fantastic character. She's a brave heroine. I like that. She's not someone who needs to be saved. She has a plan. And she'll get it done. She doesn't get distracted by anything. She focuses on saving Stephen. And you know she will. I like strong heroines who know what they want to do. 
I also like the historical aspect. Most supernatural books focus on urban fantasy compared to the historical world. This book focuses on the past. It weaves in the war and the flu to make the spiritual photography make sense. The deaths make people desperate. They want to see their loved ones one last time. They will do anything. Even believe frauds. The historical aspect is part of the story. It seems like a character. You're constant reminded that the war is there. It is in almost every single page. You know about it. You can't stop thinking about it. It helps the story along. It's a major part of the mystery to Stephen's death. I wish there was  a bit more about the war. Maybe more war stories on Stephen's part? I don't know. 
But there's the other hand. 
I dislike the slow beginning. You don't get too much action until the end. Even then, there isn't much action. You don't have fighting. You don't have drama. You get a mystery. That really isn't a mystery if you think about it. The story has a lot of flashbacks in the beginning. Enough about that. We don't need to know all about the kiss and what happened. Can you stop? 
I also dislike the lack of clues. I thought that this would be a mystery that I could follow along. I wanted to follow along. We don't get clues. We don't get to guess. We know Julius did something. You could just tell. But the problem was that we didn't get anything from Mary Shelley. She hid things from the reader that could have moved the story along quicker.

Sunny with a 20% chance of rain 

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