• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)
Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.
But Ivy's lifelong gift—or curse—remains. She sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked for and unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918, Ivy sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother's chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death in theGreat War of Ivy's other brother, Billy.
Horrified, she leaves home and soon realizes that the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for today, because they could be stricken by nightfall. She even enters into a relationship with the murdered German man's brother, Daniel Schendel. But as her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and terrifying secrets will unfold.
Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
The females of the Rowan family have a secret; they can see the ghosts of loved ones who have passed. These uninvited guests however, are carrying an omen of a death soon to come. Ivy Rowan is 25 and has not lived much of life outside of her family farm. The Great War and the Spanish Influenza have taken their toll on her and her family. Ivy awakes after suffering the flu to learn that her father and brother have taken out their revenge on the last German business owner in town and have brutally murdered Mr. Schendel of Liberty Brothers Furniture. Unable to live with her father and brother’s deed, Ivy strikes out on her own and decides to pay penitence to the other Schendel brother in any way she can. With Daniel Schendel, Ivy comes into her own, ignites her love of jazz and finds things that were missing in her life. However, when she begins to see her uninvited guests everywhere she turns, Ivy begins to fear life once again.
This was a very surprising book that was ultimately about a woman figuring out how to live life to the fullest in the most unexpected of ways. At first the blend of the time period with the element of the paranormal really intrigued me. Although, when I was reading, it was Ivy’s character that kept me wrapped up in the pages. Ivy surprised me with many of her actions, constantly showing parts of herself that made me respect her more and more. From her ever growing confidence to her ability to drive a model-T and her relationship with Daniel, Ivy is a woman full of heart that I could easily relate to. The other part of the book that drew me in was the setting, during the Great War in a small town suffering with Influenza. Terror and panic rule the streets, many people forget that the German immigrants were ostracized and blamed during this time period, the fear and misunderstanding was apparent in the streets of Buchanan, Illinois that probably mirrored many other small towns at the time. The paranormal aspect of the book seemed like just a side note at first, but grows steadily with time and offers a surprising twist near the end. When the twist was first offered, I felt a little crushed for Ivy, but with Ivy’s true nature shining through she carries on and continues to make the best of it. Overall, an engaging and unexpected book with wonderful characters, and a great blend of historical fiction and paranormal.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Cat Winters's debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was released to widespread critical acclaim. The novel has been named a finalist for the 2014 Morris Award, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, and a Booklist 2013 Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. Winters lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.
Find out more about Cat at her website, and follow her on tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.