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.
I was mainly interested in this book because I was curious about the spiritualism era and the time period, but I ended up enjoying this book much more than I expected.
This book takes place in 1918 and which the war and Spanish Influenza, death is very common and many people are turning to spirit photographers, desperate for comfort. Mary Shelley Black moves to San Diego with her aunt after her dad gets arrested for treason (letting boys escape the draft). At the same time, Stephen, Mary Shelley's first love and childhood friend was drafted into war. When Stephen dies and Mary has a new death experience, she becomes haunted by him. She then begins to question what really happened to Stephen and why is he haunting her.
What I like the best about this book is how real the setting is. I knew about the Spanish Influenza and World War I, but knowing about it is completely different than actually seeing it, which is how I felt while reading this book. The time period is so accurately presented. Now, I'm not a history major, but I absolutely feel like this is how 1918 might have been like in San Diego. It was a horrible period and filled with death, despair, and fear. The author portrayed all this so brilliantly that I can actually feel all of this while reading this book. I applaud the author for being able to write such a vivid setting!
I felt like this book was a mix of a bunch of different genres, if that makes any sense. This book felt so incredible realistic, due to both the settings and the characters, even with the paranormal elements. This book was also a mystery. A majority of the book is Mary trying to figure out why Stephen keeps talking about the blackbirds, and why he is haunting her. I, honestly, had a very hard time putting this book down.
While this book is so brilliant, it is also incredibly sad. That's obvious based on the setting, but the events in Mary's life, in the one's surrounding her are so horrible. Gosh, I can't really describe this without spoilers <highlight to view spoiler>Poor Stephen! I feel like crying whenever I think about it! How could someone do such a thing?????<end of spoiler> The romantic in me wants this book to be so much happier and I almost have this book a 4/5 instead of 5/5, but this book would not be so vivid and brilliant without it. I also accept the fact that not everything is butterflies and rainbows.
Overall, I really loved this book. This book was incredibly dark and sad, but this book was also very brilliant and new. I thought that the setting was done very well and while the plot has been done before, believe me when I say that this book is not like any other. After reading this book, I am definitely going to pick up more from Cat Winters. In fact, I've already added The Cure for Dreaming to my to-read list. This is not a book (or author) to pass up!
Meaning: A new favorite!