Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Grimly Enticing Writing of Cat Winters

This past year, as I have been diving into the world of book blogging, I was introduced to the writing of Cat Winters. She writes historical paranormal fiction geared mostly towards young adults. When I was a teenager I had a phase where only supernaturally paranormal suspense novels could put me to sleep. To this day - I'm not entirely sure why! But, Cat Winters has reminded me of that feeling. Ghostly stories with a strong female lead and a surprise or two thrown in. Her characters are not weak but they aren't perfect and they are closer to the supernatural world than they want to believe. 

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters


Published: April 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Page Count: 387 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Find the Author: Website (Social media links there)

"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?" - Borrowed from the Goodreads blurb. 



Grimly enticing. This pretty much sums it up. (It also might sum up every book put out by Cat Winters.) Blackbirds was my first introduction to her writing and story telling. Mary Shelley Black is a strong-minded, intelligent young woman who sees the world for what it is. She doesn't shy away from the horrors of her world - she faces them head on. This makes her a admirable character right off the bat. 


What makes her more admirable is her admittance to the supernatural and her earnest, heartfelt acceptance of her first love's confused ghost returning to her. That to me, speaks of a well-rounded character. I prefer my heroines capable, strong but vulnerable in some way. It fleshes them out. 


Her descriptive writing invokes strong sensory images. That being said - you will not want to make onion anything anytime soon. And you will be wary of electricity. And you might want to invest in a face mask. 


The conclusion is not only sneaky but heart-wrenching. Every good mystery - supernatural or not - must have at least one good surprise. Blackbirds has more than one and they add to the level of heart that I felt resonated through out the story. It also illuminated the mind-shattering effect of war and the untold stories of many of the soldiers that came back without any means of healing the trauma they had experienced and it's resulting consequences.


The Uninvited by Cat Winters


Published: August 11th, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Page Count: 343 
Genre: Paranormal, Adult Fiction

"Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War. Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold." - Nabbed from the Goodreads Blurb

Geared towards an adult audience, The Uninvited, is not many shades darker than Winter's writing geared towards young adults. It does include a not-so-explicit love scene. As someone who has read her fair share of questionable romance novels - it doesn't phase me at all. It's well within it's context of the story. The Uninvited could easily be categorized as a young adult novel if the main character wasn't in her twenties. 

Ivy is incredibly sheltered and yet very astute in her observations of her surroundings. (Of course, there's that one thing she doesn't quite get until the end of the novel). She strives for independence within a shattering world and absolution for a heinous crime that she did not commit herself. You can like her for that and you can root for her. 

There is something rather surprising (yet not) revealed at the end. And to be honest - you might figure it out before I did. Or you'll be like me and will flip through the past pages in confusion. Certain things don't add up. Winter is far from a lazy writer and so it doesn't quite make sense until it's revealed. So, if you get confused or scratch your head on a few things - keep going. It'll make sense in the end. 


Conclusion

Cat Winters writes within a very similar world, in the same time, and with characters that seem to be a varied reflection of each other. Her writing elevates her from being trapped as a 'genre' writer. I might not suggest her within my range of general suggestions (Who knows if someone is into paranormal historical fiction-from-the-perspective-of-a-young-woman - it's better to go with A Tree Grows In Brooklyn). But I would suggest if someone was looking for something different, something out of their norm.

Four out of five stars!

What's next on my Cat Winter's reading list? The Steep and Thorny Way.

Happy reading and until next time,

Jess




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