Book Review: The Uninvited
By: Cat Winters
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Adult - Historical Fiction, Paranormal
I have enjoyed Cat Winters' young adult novels so when I saw she was writing one for adults I was super excited. I love how Winters combines history and the paranormal to create her stories. It makes for an intensely addicting combination. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for those moments when I crave a little fantasy with my history.
Winters tends to focus her novels in the early 1900's and this one is no exception. The story takes place in Buchanan, Illinois during the ravages of WWI and the Spanish Influenza. The small town is reeling from the death toll of the war and the dreaded disease, but more sinister things are also at play. The town is steeped in anti-German sentiments which places any of German ancestry at risk. Violence and discrimination are common; being anyone of foreign descent during this time period would have been frightening. Not only did they face intense scrutiny and unfair treatment, but often these immigrants also had to do deal with the ugly face of poverty. When the flu hits at its hardest, the immigrant community as well as the African American community do not receive the same access to adequate health care that the white townsfolk receive. This system of inequality, while historically accurate, was difficult to read. I have always been bothered by the socioeconomic divide and white privilege. It is heartbreaking to think of all the innocent people who could not receive medical care during such a deadly and tragic epidemic.
The Uninvited is told through the first person narration of Ivy Rowan, a twenty five year old piano teacher who lives on the family farm with her parents and younger brother. Ivy has forsaken her own dreams to watch over her mother and brothers while trying to keep her father's abusive hand from destroying the ones she loves most. The family is in tatters after the news arrives that her brother, Billy, has been killed in the war. Things get bleaker when Ivy contracts the deadly flu. One evening her father and younger brother come home covered in the blood of a German they have brutally murdered. Ivy knows that she can no longer stay at home; she cannot condone the violent actions of her family. She packs her things and moves into town. Ivy's overwhelming guilt leads her to try to make amends with Daniel, the brother of the murdered man. This compulsion will lead Ivy and Daniel down a passionate and dangerous road.
The Uninvited is equal parts beauty and tragedy. I loved watching Ivy spread her wings and seek out independence. The novel has a gothic, mystical feel about it due to the dark nature of the era and Ivy's ability to see the dead. Ivy finds her gift to be more of a burden as the spirits she sees are harbingers of an impending death. Ivy never knows who will be next, but seeing spirits always leads to a grave. I loved the paranormal aspect of this one. Winters has crafted some intriguing twists into this plot that I never saw coming. The concluding chapters were phenomenal. This is a read that is not to be missed if you enjoy Historical Fantasy.
One Last Gripe: I have nothing but positive things to say about this one.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the plot of this one. The Uninvited has earned the spot as my favorite Cat Winters' novel to date.
First Sentence: I admit, I had seen a ghost or two.
Favorite Character: Ivy
Least Favorite Character: Lucas
From the award-winning author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds comes 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 loved The 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.