Thursday, August 13, 2015

#Review - The Uninvited by Cat Winters (Historical Fiction)

Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical, Paranormal

From the award-winning author of In the Shadow of Blackbirdscomes a stunning new novel—a masterfully crafted story of love, loss, and second chances. Set during the fear and panic of the Great Influenza of 1918, The Uninvited is part gothic ghost-story, part psychological thriller, perfect for those who lovedThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield or The Vanishing by Wendy Webb.

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.

The Uninvited, by Cat Winters, is a historical/paranormal standalone novel that takes place in 1918 Buchanan, Illinois. The protagonist is 25 year old Ivy Rowan who teaches piano to children and is also sensitive to seeing the Uninvited (spirits) like her mother, and grandmother. Ivy knows that when a spirit shows up, someone has died or will soon be dead. Everything changes when she learns that her younger brother Peter and father Frank have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s brother Billy in the Great War aka World War I. Buchanan, Illinois has been hit extremely hard by the flu epidemic and the war. Ivy's school friends have also suffered from the pandemic and the war.

Ivy is affectionately called Wendy Darling by her brothers. She can't just stand by and let things slide by. She takes action, she tries to make a wrong into a right, and in the end, Ivy finds a way of letting go of worrying about others, and focusing instead on putting a smile on her face, and a skip in her step. While I have a bit of issue with the speed of the romance, and the angst, it all comes out in the wash. The next thing that readers should know about The Uninvited, is that it is not a young adult themed story like In the Shadows of Blackbirds. Ivy is a character with profound empathy, a sensitive nature, and unable to move forward with her own life until she has an epiphany of sorts.

Winters was asked to write a story that was more adult themed in nature than young adult. The Uninvited is the end result and we, as readers, should be thankful that the publisher thought so highly of Winters writing ability to take a chance that she would succeed. The story is filled with complex angles and a surprising revelation around the 80 percent mark. Perhaps if one truly pays attention to clues Winters puts in front of you, then you can get the general idea of what this story is about and I can save the spoilers for private conversations. Winter doesn't sit on her hands and hold back on the dark things that happened in America during World War I.

Groups like The American Protective League (APL) was an organization of private citizens that worked with Federal law enforcement agencies during the World War I era to identify suspected German sympathizers and to counteract the activities of radicals, anarchists, anti-war activists, and left-wing labor and political organizations. There were concentration camps in Georgia and Utah for Germans who were deemed dangerous to America. People find different ways of coping during horrible times. I dare say that the US hasn't exactly been kind to legal immigrants, especially when it comes to putting them in concentration camps. Just ask the Germans in WWI. Just ask the Italians and Japanese in World War II. Students should learn from our countries history and mistakes so that we can stop repeating them over and over again.

I do like that Winter once again flirts with a very tragic and deadly pandemic that spread throughout the entire world killing millions. The Spanish influenza or flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919, was the deadliest in modern history. It infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide; about one-third of the planet's population at the time. It killed an estimated 20 to 50 million victims. I do like that Winter once again puts women in the forefront of her story in an age where men were fighting overseas, and women were helping out at home, especially with the American Red Cross. The painful exploration of these women trying to deal with the pandemic reads as factual, and the suffering is clear as the nose on your faces.

As with her previous novels, Winters doesn't hold things back. Her story is fluid, and her characters are very likable. I like that Ivy is written like a butterfly who finally gets her winds, and flies away to do her own thing rather than being stuck in her parent's home doing odd jobs. I think that readers will agree that Ivy truly stands out and is a remarkable character even with the shocking abruptness of the romance, and the HOLY CRAP revelation at the end.

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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