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In the Shadow of Blackbirds

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,729 Ratings  ·  1,536 Reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Amulet Books
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Community Reviews

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Kat Stark

Buddyread with the lovely Lauren (Click to read her review)

Yeah, I'm basically the 1% of the rare people that weren't fond of this book.

In fact, I debated not even writing a review. I don't want to write one! So I'm just going to say that between the ridiculous paranormal events, awkward descriptions, and underdeveloped relationships...the main problems I had were with the writing and not being able to care for the characters. Simply that. I appreciate the attention to detail with the time perio
Emily May
The lovely Cat Winters joined us over at the blog to talk about the inspiration for this novel and writing about women in 1918:

Wow. I thought this was fantastic - one of the best books I've read in a long while.

When I think of 1918, I think of a world torn apart by war. I think of trenches and Kaiser Willhelm and a general fear that your father, husband, brother and/or son will never make it back to you. When I think of death in 1918, I picture a bleak image of
Wendy Darling
This book is set in the year 1918, but feels quite Victorian in its immersion in spiritualism and séances. The author's note at the end confirms her interest in that era, as well as in the epidemic of influenza that killed 50 million people worldwide towards the end of the first world war. In the Shadow of the Blackbirds is certainly steeped in her research of both those eras, and the mash-up of time periods and genres work together beautifully, with historical drama, ghost story, and mystery al ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)

What an original little gem : this brilliant tale, served by a beautiful writing and a haunting atmosphere, is like nothing I've read before.

From page one I felt connected to every one of these characters, first of all Mary Shelley, a strong and clever heroine I instantly loved (I wish there were more YA leads like her, to be honest). In my opinion Cat Winters perfectly nailed the characterization, making me care for characters even before meeting them : how is that even possible? Before I kne
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
The Nocturnal Library: Guest post by Cat Winters, 10 Ways I Researched the Past for In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Stop by to read it and enter to win a hardcover copy from The Book Depository.

Some books should be sold with a companion novel, a cheerful, nonsensical one people would read immediately after the main story to lighten up their souls. If there was ever a book that left me in urgent need of some cheering up (and a cup of spicy hot chocolate), it’s this one. But would I change a single t
Mar 03, 2014 Giselle rated it it was amazing
It excites me so when I come across a novel that shows me there can still be books that thoroughly stand out from any other in its originality and outstanding story-telling. I can not even believe that In the Shadow of Blackbirds is Cat's debut novel!

What I love most from this book is how, through impressive research, Cat achieves an exceptionally poignant historical atmosphere from a time that saw through so much death and horror. The fall of 1918 had not only the highest death toll from the Sp
Vane J.

War is never like the history books portray it. I'm not saying they lie- I'm saying they don't show you everything... or what's more like it, they tell you the stories, they don't t show it, and we readers know that by telling and not showing the majority of the emotions are drained. (I'm not complaining about history books, by the way. I'm just using them as starting point for my review).

History books tell you World War I started on 1914 and ended on 1918. History books tell you X amount of pe
May 24, 2016 Christina rated it really liked it
4 stars!

"Surely, though, I must have stolen into the future and landed in an H.G. Wells - style world -- a horrific, fantastical society in which people's faces contained only eyes, millions of healthy young adults and children dropped dead from the flu, boys got transported out of the country to be blown to bits, and the goverment arrested citizens for speaking the wrong words. Such a place couldn't be real. And it couldn't be the United States of America, 'the land of the free and the home of
"I think between the war and the flu, no one is going to escape being haunted. We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead."

IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS is a great atmospheric ghost story set in 1918 during a time of pestilence, war, famine and death where a brave sixteen year old Mary Shelley Black (Yep, named after the author) tells her amazing tale of young love, loss and connection to the spirit world.

This engaging young adult mystery is filled with wonderful haunting old pho

Oct 18, 2015 Tabetha rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-be-read-soon
Rating: Four ghostly spirit stars "'I'm not trying to sound un-American,' I said, 'but the aspirin rumor is stupid. Influenza is an airborne illness. The only way the Germans could have used the flu as a weapon is if they shipped boatloads of sick German people over here and let everyone cough on us'...
Another siren screamed by. That old bully Death breathed down my neck and nipped at my skin, warning, Don't waste one spare second of your time. If there are things you want to accomplish while y
Spoilers are hidden under spoiler tags.

What would you do if the ones you love are in danger? What would you do if the ghost of your beloved sweetheart comes back to haunt you?

Would you be willing to risk your safety-your life, even-just to find out the truth beneath it all? Would you have the courage to help him rest in peace?

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a mix of mystery, paranormal, superstition, romance and tragedy.

After reading all the praises for this book, I was
Jan 22, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
new age elements: check
huge creepy factor: check
strong female protagonist: check
feminist as hell: check
swoon-worthy romance: check
guaranteed heartbreak: check

*thumbs up while choking back tears*
Sep 22, 2015 Rane rated it it was amazing

This book put me through an emotional ringer.

I loved every bit of it.

I've be interested in the time period and the forgotten Pandemic of 1918 for sometime now, and curious in how Cat Winters would show this in her work. She nailed it. Down to the small details of how people reacted to those seemly healthy individuals dropping dead the next moment. Then you have soldiers coming from the trenches of the First World War, broken and soul-sick from the bloodshed. The dread, the helplessness and
Read this review and more on my blog

In a nutshell: A haunting and wonderfully written paranormal novel set during a time of war, disease and Spiritualism. Easily one of my new favourites!

I absolutely adored this book - it's as simple as that. It's been far too long since a book has impacted me like this and it got me out of my horrible reading slump. After weeks of very little desire to read, I devoured this almost-400-page beauty in just over 3 hours. It rendered me speechless (and sleepless) a
Jul 07, 2015 TL rated it it was amazing
Recommended to TL by: Emily May's review I think haha, don't remember for sure
This was one of those books that seemed right up my alley, I remember the cover catching my eye immediately and thinking 'wow, that's an excellent cover shot' (and also when I got my copy, thinking that the girl reminds me of the lead from DUFF movie). I put it on the paperbackswap list and waited my turn.

I could not put this book down, if I hadn't been so tired I probably would have read this in one sitting. I love it when an author lures you in right from the first chapter and the spell doesn'
Rating: 4.5 Stars

"The road ahead may be rather upsetting for a sixteen-year-old girl. I'm afraid your delicate female eyes and ears will experience some ugliness."

"Oh, you silly, naive men." I shook my weary head and genuinely pitied their ignorance. "You've clearly never been a sixteen-year-old girl in the fall of 1918."

And thank god for that. In the Shadows of Blackbirds is historical fiction at its best - so richly atmospheric and full of true accounts that it leaves you chilled to the bo
Dec 22, 2015 Renu rated it it was amazing
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a dark and beautiful story that had me on the verge of tears.

The story takes place in 1918, during the time of the Spanish influenza. Our plucky and intelligent heroine Mary Shelley Black has never believed in ghosts, that is until her first love tragically dies in battle and returns as a traumatised spirit. Shocked beyond belief Shelley is determined to find out the true cause of his death.

It's clear that Winters has done her research, she paints a bleak and drear
To be honest, I think the World Wars were pretty pointless. War itself is pointless. When I had to learn about the world wars during class and about the numerous people who died and how they died, I was angered and saddened because really? You want kill people because they refuse to give their land? Because they refuse to surrender? Because you cannot dominate the whole world?

See, maybe I'm wrong and I'm not seeing the bigger picture but these are just my views. Why can't people just talk it ov
Richard Denney
Nov 29, 2015 Richard Denney rated it liked it
I enjoyed this one, though it dragged a bit. I thought it was creepy and made the hairs on my neck stand. I'd recommend this one if you want something spooky. :)
Lauren DeStefano
Nov 15, 2012 Lauren DeStefano rated it it was amazing
Shelves: knife-factor
You guys are most definitely in for something special with this. ;) More tk.
Jubilation Lee
So let me set the stage for this book, my friends.

It’s October 1918. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black, has fled to San Diego in the wake of her father’s arrest for treason (he’d been smuggling boys free of the draft). Spanish Influenza is sweeping through the country, World War I rages on abroad, and Spiritualist mediums prey on the grieving.

Our heroine is… she’s having a shit week, you guys. Her childhood love, Stephen, just died uselessly in the trenches on the other side of the world. (vi
Neil (or bleed)
Jul 26, 2016 Neil (or bleed) rated it it was amazing
This book has one of the best female main characters ever. RTC.
Apr 16, 2013 Heidi rated it it was amazing

Four and a half stars: An amazing, well researched, haunting debut!

Mary Shelley Black boards the train. She is surrounded by a sea of frightened, masked passengers. They are leaving Portland, Oregon headed to San Diego in hopes of escaping the deathly Spanish Flu. The flu epidemic is sweeping the country and killing people in record numbers. Every sneeze or cough sets people on edge as it is viewed as a possible flu contamination. Mary Shelley, however, refuses to let the flu hold her back. At t
My reaction following this book: Slack-jawed.
Mary Shelley Black is as peculiar as her name. A sixteen year old scientifically inclined girl who dismisses spiritualism, relying on logic and hard-facts proven beyond doubt.
The year is 1918, the villain is the Flu. The Flu: the reason people bathe themselves in the repugnant smells of onions and camphor balls, deluding themselves with a false sense of protection. Or maybe it's the war? The war which drives the hopeless to seek solace in the f
A copy of In the Shadow of Blackbirds was provided to me by Amulet Books/Netgalley for review purposes.

'Stay still. Smile. And summon the dead.'

Mary Shelley Black is a sixteen year old girl living in a war ravaged world. After her father is arrested she is forced to flee and stays with her Aunt in San Diego. After losing her father and finding out that her childhood love, Stephen, has lost his life in the war, Mary Shelley struggles desperately to cling to a reason to continue living when she's
Oct 24, 2015 Nafiza rated it really liked it
I could have met Cat Winters at the ALA midwinter conference in Seattle. The thing is, we had scheduled a food tour at the same time she was signing and well…food won. As it is wont to do where I am concerned. Anyway, I wish I had met her because let me tell you this, In The Shadow of Blackbirds is fantastic. It really is. I liked it so much that it is currently a contender for the best YA debut of the year award that happens annually in my head. My head, I tell you, the place to go for fun.

Lauren Koerner
Jan 02, 2016 Lauren Koerner rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
Buddy read with the FABULOUS Kat Stark!
2.5 to 3 stars. Maybe I'll try and read this later...but...meh. It's not pulling me in. I expected it to be better. I'm only on page 56, but there's such a lack of information and I'm not a history buff so I had to google what the hecky padalecki was going on.
Carina Olsen
Apr 09, 2013 Carina Olsen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I just finished re-reading this book. You can read my new book recommendation for it below :) And at the bottom I have posted links to my old review, and my new rec on my blog.


I'm not sure I have words for how perfect this book is. I just finished reading it for the second time, and I cannot wait to read it again and again. It's just stunning. The writing is perfect. And really beautiful. Cat Winters writes really well, and I cannot wait to read more from h
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Apr 26, 2016 Mlpmom (Book Reviewer) rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-books
Cat Winter's Never ceases to pull me right into the very heart of her stories with their rich historical detail and their feisty heroines who are anything but the norm.

Always set in a time of our world that was both fascinating in it's advances and prehistoric in it's ideas and technology, and every bit as horrifying as it is captivating, her debut novel In the Shadow of Blackbirds was every bit as good as her latest releases.

Having read all of her books out of order, I can say that I truly hav
May 21, 2013 Brandi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book! It's more than 5 stars.




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Cat Winters is an award-winning author of YA and adult fiction. Her YA works include IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, THE CURE FOR DREAMING, and THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY. Her debut adult novel, THE UNINVITED, released in 2015, and her second book for adults, YESTERNIGHT, is coming October 4, 2016.

Winters was born and raised in Southern California, just a short drive down the freeway from Disneyland,
More about Cat Winters...

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“Don’t ever worry what the boys who don’t appreciate originality think of you. They’re fools.” 48 likes
“Why can't a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?” 38 likes
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