I love historical fiction, it is by far my favorite genre, but sadly, it is the genre I read the least. I think part of the problem is that far too maI love historical fiction, it is by far my favorite genre, but sadly, it is the genre I read the least. I think part of the problem is that far too many historical fiction novels take place in a historical time period, but read like contemporaries. In the Shadow of Blackbirds stays true to the social and political aspects of the the early Twentieth century, creating an intriguing look into into the past of a hugely devastating epoch in American history.
Everyone has a general idea of what happened during World War I. Similarly, most people have at least heard of the Spanish Influenza outbreak. However, what many people failed to realize is that these two catastrophes were existing at the same time. Not only were young men being sent off to fight in foreign lands and returning in coffins, but people were no longer safe in their own homes. People feared the Germans, but at least with the war, people had a tangible enemy to point to. The flu was unpredictable, it was in the air, and science was not advanced enough to significantly stop the epidemic from spreading; they just had to let it run its course. With death bombarding individuals at every moment of the day, it is no surprise that they started to feel a need to find proof of an afterlife. They needed clear, scientific evidence, that their loved ones have passed on to somewhere else and have not just ceased to exist. They needed comfort in knowing that if - or when - the flu takes them, they will pass on to this new plain too.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds puts an emphasis on the spiritual effects of these two coinciding terrors. From spiritual photography and seances, to controversial experiments, Winters gives readers a taste of the absolute desperation and consuming need to prove the unknown. Historical photographs and propaganda are woven throughout the novel to fully immerse the reader into the terror and desolation the generation had to face. Yes, this novel does have pictures, but that does not put it in some lesser category. Pictures does not equal simplification and it does not equal less words. These images instead serve an emotional purpose that words cannot describe. Reading about characters clenching their face masks, hovered around tables calling out to ghosts, or seeing propaganda guilting people into joining the war efforts create one type of emotional response. However, putting historically correct photographs alongside these descriptions create an unparalleled depth to the emotional experience. These images are a huge strength of the novel.
My only criticism is that there were some times when I found myself pulled out of the story by a word or sentence that sounded a bit too contemporary. This is a silly example, but at one point the main character relates something to the feeling you get on a Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel (the original design which held over 2,000 people) was invented in 1893 for the World Fair in Chicago and was destroyed in 1906. That same year, the Eli Bridge Company started to distribute a smaller, more effective version of the wheel to other places around the country. The book takes place in 1919. I do not think that at this point in history, the feeling you get on a Ferris Wheel would have been a commonly understood concept. Like I said, this is silly and pretty much inconsequential, but there were little moments when it felt like I was being addressed as a contemporary audience, rather than a reader in 1919. However, this was not a big problem in the text.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It was not exactly what I was expecting it to be, which was interesting as it made the plot unpredictable. Also, I clearly have illogical responses to things, because the constant mention of onions (which were thought to ward off the flu) made me really want to make some French onion soup. Anyone else? No? Just me? Oh... okay. ...more
I did not read much as a young child, something that I try to make up for every day. However, there were three books/series that I remember devouring:I did not read much as a young child, something that I try to make up for every day. However, there were three books/series that I remember devouring: Fever 1793, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and A Series of Unfortunate Events. These books seriously made my childhood (clearly I enjoyed depressing stories.... I was an odd child.). I didn't even know this book existed until two weeks ago, which is when I automatically bought it and read it as soon as it reached me. I was dying to continue the story, especially with All the Wrong Questions, Snicket's new series coming out later this year.
Although I enjoyed reading this novel, I wish there was a little something more... The book is composed of different pieces of writing gathered up in one place: news articles, secret notes, encrypted play scripts, dialogues, and more that all contribute to the mystery that is Lemony Snicket. I enjoyed the eclectic nature of the writing, since that style is what we have all come to love about the author. I just wish it all added up. Maybe I missed something, but I was hoping that all the little clues would create something come the end of the book... but I was left with more mystery. The novel was definitely fun and worth reading for any avid fan of the series, but I wouldn't expect a real conclusion....more
I loved Blue Bloods. When I read it, I was recently recovering from my Twilight epidemic, and this was the perfect fix. Don’t let the Twilight referenI loved Blue Bloods. When I read it, I was recently recovering from my Twilight epidemic, and this was the perfect fix. Don’t let the Twilight reference scare you off, because the books are much different. One of my favorite aspects of this novel (whole series really) is that the vampires have a history. Most vampire stories talk about vampires always existing, not how they came to be. Melissa de la Cruz uses angel mythology to bring logic and reason to a made up creature. This brings a very real aspect to the characters, and overall, the novel. Being set in New York City, this series could easily be described as Twilight meets Gossip Girl but in a way all its own.
The book (again, whole series) switches point of view regularly. This could be choppy and confusing if not done right, but I feel that Melissa executes it perfectly. It adds a whole other aspect to the characters; you are not just seeing what one character thinks of another, but many characters’ opinions and views as well as options and views of that particular character. It makes the novel very three-dimensional and enjoyable. Of course it is annoying, yet intriguing at the same time, when one character leaves you hanging.
I devoured these books when I was younger. They might as well have been fused to my body because they were not just something I read, they were the o I devoured these books when I was younger. They might as well have been fused to my body because they were not just something I read, they were the only things I read. Every elementary school project was somehow made to reference these books. I even made my own field guide once (wish I REALLY wish I still had). I was glad to find, that upon reading the first book again, almost ten years later, I was just as wonderstruck as with the first read.
What is amazing about this book - and the series as a whole- is that the authors don't talk down to the reader. I recently discovered that my parents thought I was slow when in elementary school, which is comical when compared to my current stature. But the reason they thought this is because I was so damn stubborn that I would not do any work if I felt condescended or did not see the point. Which basically amounted to me coasting until middle school, which is when I decided I would start working, and brought back straight A's all three years. The point to that little anecdote is that these books provided me with that place to feel mature. To feel powerful and how an escape to be considered intelligent. The fantastical world is consuming. At one point I remember hiding the books in my closet at night because I was afraid the bad monsters would get me for reading them. The world the authors create is suspenseful, intriguing, and incredibly scary. They don't shy away from scaring young children, and that is a huge part of why I respected and loved (and still do) these books so much.
This first installment takes place when the Grace family moves into the home previously occupied by their great Aunt Lucinda. Lucinda is currently residing in a mental hospital, after claiming the existence of numerous magical creatures. After a series of strange occurrences, one of the Grace twins finds a field guide by Arthur Spiderwick, chronicling all he knows about the magical world around him. This book sets off a series of misfortunes and life-threatening events. Owning the book puts them in great danger, but now that they have it, there is no safe way to get rid of it.
Apart from the lovely writing style, this book is adorned with beautiful gothic style drawings. Some are full color, others are black and white, but all of them are equally gorgous. Each is taken from a specific line in the chapter, and they really add to the story experience.
If you didn't read this book as a child, you definitely should pick it up. It took me only about an hour to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
I read this for school, so I will not be reviewing it here or on my blog. But I will say this: it was very graphic and sometimes uncomfortable, but itI read this for school, so I will not be reviewing it here or on my blog. But I will say this: it was very graphic and sometimes uncomfortable, but it was a good book. There wasn't a time when I had to force myself to read it, I actually wanted to. There was alot of irony, symbolism and themes that I found very interesting. And the ending! It is still bothering my (that's why I like YA- cuz it ties everything up in a little package. This.... didn't)....more