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Vladimir Nabokov, Craig Raine
In the Shadow of Blackbirds - Cat Winters Wow. I usually try to stay away from books that seem like they have the potential to be creepy but this one really interested me and it got such great reviews from my friends that I decided to check it out anyway. And I'm really glad I did. This book is about four things: 1. World War I 2. The influenza outbreak and 3. the spiritual world and 4. the mystery of what happened to her sweetheart. All four are combined for the main character who ends up moving to San Diego to live with her aunt after her father is arrested. Death is everywhere due to both the war and the flu and so interest in the spiritual world has risen over the years. The aunt that Mary Shelley Black goes to live with is deeply invested in that world. Mary Shelley, however, does not believe in it and simply goes to visit the spirit photographer (Julius), who is the brother of her sweetheart (Stephen), in order to get a package that Julius has been keeping from her. The photograph taken reveals the ghost of Stephen, which is when the mystery element of this book starts. Mary Shelley is haunted by his ghost throughout the book and he repeatedly tells her that he has been killed by blackbirds. She is not sure what he means and sets out to discover if he was killed in war, from the flu, or by other means. She does this both through methods involving the spiritual world as well as research and asking questions. This book was very beautifully written and atmospheric. I thought that the 4 elements I mentioned above were combined very smoothly. My only real complaint was that sometimes I wanted MORE. At one point Mary Shelley nurses injured soldiers in order to find more clues, and I really wanted more of those type of scenes. I also thought that the relationship between Mary Shelley and her aunt Eva was lovely. This was a very strong debut and I look forward to reading more from this author!