Author: Cat Winters
Release: August 11th 2015
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
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.
DAMN THAT PLOT TWIST THO.
I love that Cat Winters' books always continue to teach me new stuff about history and culture and stuff. I didn't even know there was something called the American Protective League and that they were similar to the Stasi of the DDR. Or, rather, the Stasi were similar to the APL. So, amen, Cat Winters. Thank you for managing to do something few authors can do anymore, which would be actually, actively educating me. Nice work!
While I did love the historical elements, which were absolutely spectacular as always because you can really feel how much Winters knows about this time period, I have to admit that the whole overall plot fell a little short. There never was a clear goal the heroine aimed to reach, and personally, that kind of non-drive really bothers me in novels. I just need something that I can focus on, even if it is some far away aim, it's better than just wandering around, since that gives the novel a really, really random feel. Granted, it wasn't too bad with this book, but I still felt it here and there.
Another thing I didn't enjoy that much was how Ivy and Daniel's relationship is built up. It seems extremely toxic and unhealthy at first, which it is, but I could never see it improving? Like, I still have no clue why they fell in love in the first place, or what ties them together. Like, Daniel's always shutting himself off from the world and from Ivy, never sharing his secrets until suddenly, he does? Just out of fucking nowhere? Or, at least, it seems like he just does it out of the blue, because I truly couldn't see a reason behind it. Did I miss some big event, something that happened that gave him incentive to finally come clean? It was all waaay too weird for me and just gave me wrong vibes, to be honest.
The characters themselves were pretty well developed, though, I gotta say. I love Ivy's discovery of herself and her own motives for whatever she has done in the past and just, her whole arc of figuring it all out, about the influenza, about the spirits she sees, the war, Germans, ... it was all very nice. I approve. The side characters all got a back story and some side arcs, too, for the most part; there was always something distinguishing one from the other and I liked that everyone was an individual. The whole novel was full of diverse people and thus created a very unique novel and reading experience.
All in all, I genuinely enjoyed this one a lot, and I would definitely recommend it. I think reading it in small doses helped a lot, because I don't think this is the type of high-strung action novel you read within a single day, but rather a piece you read slowly and try to cherish for a while, especially because those last 15% really hit you hard. That plot twist tho.
One little nitpick I do have is that Daniel is always sneaking German into his sentences? Why? I don't speak German just because I can when I'm talking to non-German friends? I know they can't understand it, so why would I ever...!? It didn't make sense and only seemed to serve to remind us all the time that Daniel is, in fact, German, which to me felt really really unnecessary.