In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters
It's 1918 and the world has gone insane.
Mary Shelley Black's father has just been beaten and arrested for treason. Mary Shelley escaped out the back just in time and ran to the train station, as her father had ordered, only to end up living with her aunt in San Diego.
And it's not just World War I, the War to End All Wars, that's got the country on edge; it's the Spanish Influenza.
Just about everyone thinks they know a way to ward off the terrible symptoms. From salt in the nose, to burning sulfur, to keeping a potato in the pocket, everyone has tried everything, and nothing has stopped it.
Everyone wears masks to try and prevent breathing in the disease.
It's like walking through Death's playground.
When Mary Shelley arrived at her aunt's, she had hoped to meet up with a childhood friend (and recent romantic interest), only to find out that he has died in battle.
But his soul hasn't left yet. And in a world where everyone is clinging to life so much that they believe certain people can take pictures capturing the images of the souls of loved ones, even the very practical and scientific Mary Shelley isn't able to remain a skeptic.
Final thoughts: I liked this one, but I fought it the whole way. The real problem was that I kept trying to predict what was going to happen, only to find half of my predictions fly out the window throughout the book. It was frustrating to think the book would zig when it actually zagged (more than once). I also got a little tired reading about onions, since that seemed to be the only thing people ate (and that just started me thinking about the horrid smells and awful breath of the people back then). In the end, when I just relaxed and stopped trying to predict everything about it, it became pretty good.
Even Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's wife) believed in spirit photography.