Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Title: The Uninvited
Author: Cat Winters
Genre: historical fiction, supernatural fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: August 11 2015
Source: from publishers for review via edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

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, unwelcome, 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.

Cat Winters, with her three novels published to date, has established beyond a doubt that she can write. She is a wordsmith; each sentence is crafted and hand-picked and her books are uniquely in her voice. Those books are each eerie, atmospheric, creepy, original, and completely unforgettable.  She tackles interesting times and ideas, plays with themes and expectations and do so with aplomb. 

The Uninvited returns to roughly the same time shown so memorably for Winters' debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Set in America, as WWI escalated and the Spanish flu first hit, Ivy Rowan's small world in Buchanan, Illinois is the unlikely story of a German emigre and an American recluse. It should also be noted that this isn't YA and Ivy isn't a YA protagonist. Her woes are much more than coming of age and striving for independence or first love. Ivy's world is ending -- in paranoia, in fear, in plagues, and in bodies.

For all that I liked Ivy's character, I never invested or wholly empathized with her. Winter's narrative is wonderfully atmospheric and effective, but it also kept me at a distance from the characters themselves. I never knew any of the secondary characters beyond Ivy's reserved impressions. Their presence and personalities are negligible, save Daniel. I think if I had emotionally connected more, if Ivy's narration wasn't so removed/in shock over Billy, I would have found this novel to be a 5-star read. 

The writing in The Uninvited is quietly lovely. The plotting is smart and less predictable than it first appears. It is obvious that Cat Winters is a talented writer and she's also a smart storyteller. Her third novel is haunting and different. It's not the usual tale you would see about an American family in WWI and it's also an engrossing one. Definitely recommended for fans of her YA novels.

1 comment:

  1. I agree- I didn't connect as much with Ivy as I could have. I really loved the story, atmosphere and writing too. Cat is so talented.


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