I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Uninvited: A Novel by Cat Winters
Published by William Morrow on August 11th 2015
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Also by this author: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Steep & Thorny Way
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 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 is an atmospheric, haunting, and utterly compelling novel.
“Some spirits get stuck in the places where they died. […] Some struggle to complete a task they didn’t finish when they were alive. Others, they roam the earth, unsettled, restless, unsure what to do or where they belong. And then there are the lucky ones…”
In the midst of the final days of World War I, there is no peaceful end in sight in the town of Buchanan, Illinois. The hatred towards Germans continues to grow and the recent outbreak of Spanish influenza has many blaming the Germans for releasing the sickness. Most German residents have been ran out of town, but two brothers who own a furniture business still remain. One night, the violence escalates and one of the brothers ends up murdered.
“The world’s about to end. I can feel it in the marrow of my bones. I’m worried I’m about to miss out on a few things in life that shouldn’t be missed.”
Recovering from her own bout of influenza, Ivy sees the ghost of her grandmother only to discover a short while later that her father and brother have killed a young German business-owner. The women of the Rowan family are known for being able to see the ghosts of loved ones, but only when death is imminent. Ivy has remained at home, up until the age of twenty-five, in an attempt to shelter her brothers from their fathers violence. When her older brother Billy enlists and dies in battle, their fathers violence cannot be restrained. This recent act of violence on an innocent human being is enough to compel her to finally leave her childhood home and live her life. She takes up residence with a charismatic war widow by the name of May Dover and begins to drive an ambulance for the Red Cross. Her instincts keep telling her to seek out the surviving brother and do whatever she possibly can to free herself of the guilt her family has brought down upon her shoulders.
“Out there” – he nodded toward the window – “is chaos. In here, it’s paradise. We found paradise, Liebling. But you have to keep coming back to make it stay.”
When Ivy Rowan first approaches the furniture shop, she finds Daniel Schendel on his hands and knees scrubbing blood from the floorboards. His attempts to run Ivy off fall on deaf ears but instead their lonely souls find peace with one another. Together the two form the most frenetic of bonds, similar to the jazz music that flows through his bedroom window well into the nighttime. Within the walls of his apartment, they find freedom regardless of their heritage but when Ivy begins to see the ghost of her brother Billy, she begins to fear that the small life she’s built for herself is about to come crumbling down and she worries who around her is about to end up dead.
I could not have been more pleased with this book. Most definitely a new addition to my favorites shelf, The Uninvited is achingly lovely and possesses a most unexpected twist that is both harrowing yet hopeful. While the romance is a major factor in the story, it also touches on the more serious aspects of the time. The racism, the hatred, the narrow-mindedness, the deaths. It accurately portrays the difficulty in adapting to the times, living in a society that forces your hatred of a culture or constantly risking your own loyalties to be put into question. Her role as an ambulance driver makes Ivy a most memorable character and I loved this addition to her fascinating story. Truly a wonderful historical fiction tale with a most interesting dash of paranormal that will delight adult readers and Winters’ existing YA fans.
Thanks to William Morrow, I have a copy of The Uninvited to give away to one lucky reader!
This giveaway is open to US residents only.
Ends August 25th, 2015