Here we are at last to the beginning of all things Wicked! I know many of you have been eagerly anticipating the kick off of this event. This is the fifth year of Something Wicked, and and I am delighted to once again be sharing spooky reads while meeting talented authors and enjoying giveaways. So let's kick of Something Wicked Rises!
Be sure to head over at visit this stop today:
Today's read is perfect for those of you who enjoy a ghost story. I am thrilled to once again welcome fellow Oregonian, Cat Winters to the blog. Cat brings us another fantastic read set against the turbulent ending of World War I, while the deadly Spanish Flu swept through the country. This is a book with an ending that you won't see coming! Loved it. If you want to know the secret, you will have to read it for yourself. Now let's meet Cat:
Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her upcoming novels include The Cure for Dreaming (Amulet Books/Oct. 2014) and The Uninvited (William Morrow/2015), and she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her on her Website. Photo by Tara KellyFind Cat Online:
Cat is stopping by today for an interview:
Hi Cat, I am thrilled to once again be hosting you here on Rainy Day Ramblings. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions. So let's get to it.
Thanks so much for inviting me back!
Can you tell readers a little bit about The Uninvited?
The Uninvited is the story of a twenty-five-year-old woman named Ivy Rowan who hasn’t yet lived her life. She’s remained in her parents’ home well past high school to protect her younger brothers and mother from her alcoholic and sometimes-violent father.
After one of her brothers dies from a German bullet overseas in WWI, her father and other brother head into their small Illinois town, get drunk, and kill a young German shop owner. Ivy is horrified and immediately leaves home. To make amends for her family’s violence, she develops a relationship with the murdered German’s brother—a dangerous thing to do when anti-German sentiments are running high in 1918 America.
The Uninvited is a historical tale, a psychological thriller, a love story, and even a ghost tale. Ivy sees spirits before someone close to her is about to die, and she begins to see them often as the world around her spins further out of control.
What inspired you to write The Uninvited?
An editor at HarperCollins actually asked me to write it. She found a copy of my debut YA novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds at an airport bookstore and was drawn to it because it involved the lethal 1918 Spanish influenza, a subject that’s fascinated her for a long while. After she read the book, she called up my agent and asked if I would be interested in writing an adult novel set in the same time period. I had deleted an entire subplot involving anti-German violence from In the In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and felt I still had another 1918 story to tell, so I went for it.
You excel at writing book set during the early 1900's. Why are fascinated with this particular era in time?
First of all, thank you! I’m thrilled you enjoy my portrayals of the early 1900s. It’s hard to pinpoint what originally drew me to this time period, but I’ve been fascinated by the late- 1890s to the 1930s for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because some of my earliest favorite novels were the books of Frances Hodgson Burnett—A Little Princess, The Secret Garden—written in the early 1900s. Her books portrayed both the beauty and the uncomfortable darkness of the era, which fascinated me, even as a young reader. I became intrigued by the WWI-era Spiritualism craze and the horrors of that war after reading about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s belief in spirits and fairies during the time period. I think the early 1900s appeal to me because it’s when America was forced to grow up and start facing some of its ugliness. Prejudices were questioned, rules were broken, odd crazes were embraced, and the charms of the past were revealed to be not so charming.
Once again, you brought us a book set during October 1918 when the Spanish flu was running rampant and World War I was reaching its end. Do you think there is any chance the Spanish Flu could have been a form of biological warfare?
Some people held that belief during the time period. As I mentioned before, anti-German sentiments were running rampant throughout the United States during WWI, and there were rumors that the Germans had slipped the flu into the country through the German- based Bayer aspirin or via other means. I don’t personally believe it was a form of biological warfare because the flu hit the Germans hard, too. I think the war caused the horrifying rate that the disease spread throughout the world’s population, though. Governments shipped troops around countries and across the globe, and the germs traveled with them.
(Photo of flu victims in Oakland, California, 1918 click on photo for credits).
What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Spanish Flu while researching?
So many interesting details emerged about the flu and the lengths people went to in order to avoid and survive it. However, I’m particularly fascinated by the theory that countless flu sufferers actually died from toxic levels of aspirin in their bodies instead of the flu itself.
As I just mentioned above, people in the U.S. distrusted Bayer aspirin during the era. The company lost its U.S. patent in February 1917, so other aspirin companies emerged . . . and their products contained very few instructions and no warnings. The U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Navy, and the American Medical Association—as of yet unaware of the dangers of large dosages of aspirin—recommended the use of the drug at the beginning of the pandemic, so Americans likely consumed lethal quantities. More info about this particular theory can be found at here.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes. I’ve spoken to enough people who’ve experienced ghostly activity, and I’ve visited enough haunted sites, to believe there’s something to ghost tales.
Do you have any Halloween traditions that you enjoy?
As you might have guessed, I love Halloween, and I always have. When I grew up, my elementary school put on a MAJOR annual Halloween carnival that included a costume parade, a haunted house, magicians, games, and food. We also sang spooky folk songs like “Ghost of John” in our classrooms, our little voices asking, “Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?”
Nowadays, my kids and I have always kicked off the Halloween season by hanging up a special pumpkin clock in our house and listening to the spooky-cool music of Kristen Lawrence’s Halloween Carols . We also attend an annual fall festival at a local farm and grow pumpkins in our backyard. There’s a monster pumpkin swelling to enormous proportions in the garden right now.
What is next for you?
In March 2016 I’ll be celebrating the release of my third YA novel, The Steep and Thorny Way, a reimagining of Hamlet set in 1920s Oregon. My Hamlet character is a biracial sixteen-year-old girl who’s dealing with both the KKK’s takeover of the state and the death of her father, which originally looked like an accident, but now she suspects her new stepfather may have murdered him. She seeks answers from the boy accused of hitting her father with a car, as well as the ghost of her dad, who’s rumored to roam the local roads late at night. I love the book dearly and can’t wait to share it with everyone.
I’m also at work on a second adult novel, Yesternight. More info on that one to come.
Thanks so much, Cat, for being here today. I am excited to see what you have in store for us next.
Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of Something Wicked!
A big thank you to Cat Winters for once again taking part in Something Wicked, this her third year here. Cat brings a terrific treat for all of you book lovers out there. Today, Cat is offering up a signed copy of The Uninvited. This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only.
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.
The Uninvited is an atmospheric, haunting, and utterly compelling novel.
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by William Morrow
Four and a half stars: A beautiful and haunting story that reveals the darker side of America.
Ivy is convalescing in her room, recovering from a bout with the dreaded Spanish flu, when she sees her dead grandmother rocking in her mother's chair. Ivy shudders. Every time she has seen a ghost, one of her uninviteds as she calls them, tragedy follows. Hours later, Ivy's father and brother return home, bloody and angry. The two went into town and murdered one of the German shopkeepers, in retaliation for the death of Ivy's brother in the war. Sickened by their actions, Ivy packs her bags. She has not intention of staying in the house with murderers. Ivy, at twenty five, is moving out. In town, Ivy discovers that since her illness, the whole world seems to be on the edge of destruction. The war still rages in Europe, killing thousands each day, and now the flu is taking lives at an alarming rate. Amidst the chaos and death, Ivy tries to make amends for a wrong, as she continues to see more uninvited guests. Whose death is on the horizon?
What I Liked:
- Cat Winters is becoming one of those go to authors for me, and with her latest book, The Uninvited, she delivers another beautiful and haunting tale with a surprising paranormal twist that will leave readers stunned. This is a deeply atmospheric novel set in 1918 against the terrifying backdrop of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Winters exposes the harsh and ugly side of prejudice and war that will shock you. If you are a fan of historical novels with a bit of paranormal, this is one you don't want to miss.
- What drives this novel is the atmospheric tension. Prejudice and paranoia are sweeping the country as the government encourages citizens to report any practices by neighbors that they feel are unpatriotic. Propaganda and hatred for the Germans create an atmosphere driven by fear. The local authorities quickly turn a blind eye to the murder of a German man, and instead blame it on vagrants. It is shocking and horrifying to think that Americans were quickly turning upon one another due to the hysteria. It was an eye opening read, one that exposes the ugliness and darker side of America.
- The Spanish flu epidemic is in full swing, and again, this is another eye opening experience if you are unfamiliar with this time period and the mysterious flu that swept the country and killed thousands in a month. Healthy people were succumbing to the flu and dying within hours and days. Ivy finds herself driving an ambulance each night, helping to retrieve victims from their homes. The account of the flu in this novel isn't quite as terrifying as it was in Ms. Winter's In the Shadow of Blackbirds, but still, it plays an important part.
- Ivy the main character is a fascinating character. At twenty five, she has lived her entire life sequestered away at her parent's house. She rarely leaves her home and has really no outside friends. Once she makes the bold decision to leave and move into town, she undergoes a tremendous change as she seeks to right a wrong. I so appreciated that she wanted to do what was right and that she raged against the fear and propaganda that ran rampant. Instead, she reaches out to Daniel, the German brother who survived. I loved her fierceness and her goodness. Ivy grows leaps and bounds, and I couldn't help but admire her courage whether it was when she drove an ambulance, rescuing the sick and dying, or trying to save a hapless, young German.
- The romance is a bit strange, I am not going to go into too many details, but let's just say it starts out a bit different. It doesn't exactly lead up to a night of fiery, passionate sex. It instead takes another approach. I appreciated that the romance was based on two different people seeking comfort and solace in one another's arms as the world fell apart. It is a relationship of courage and compassion and one that builds into a friendship before moving into something more despite the physical aspect. Once again, Ivy shows tremendous courage in pursuing a romance that is considered forbidden.
- I was surprised at the paranormal portion. Throughout the book, Ivy sees ghosts, as she has done her whole life. Usually when Ivy encounters a ghost, it is a harbinger of death. Ivy frets that someone she cares about is going to die, but who? Then the book takes a rather shocking turn, that I totally wasn't expecting. Needless to say, it was a clever turn that changes everything. At this point, I couldn't put the book down. I loved the paranormal surprise. I wish I could say more, but I won't. Just read it.
- Finally, the writing is haunting and gorgeous. I loved the research and attention to detail that Ms. Winters delivers. She truly transports you back to 1918 with her meticulous descriptions and careful depictions. Again if you are a fan of historicals, you must read something by Ms. Winters.
And The Not So Much:
- I was left wanting to know more about Ivy's life at home. Her father was portrayed as a drunk who often resorted to violence. Did he take out his rage on Ivy or her mother? Why did her mother choose to stay? What was the nature of the relationship between Ivy's parents? Why did her father act as he did at the end, was it of his own accord, or the urging of his wife?
- Ivy's mother was a fascinating character and a mystery. I was left wanting to know so much more about her.
- Billy, Ivy's dead brother, makes several appearances in the book. I was a bit disappointed in the way his role played out at the end. I wanted that moment for Ivy.
- I didn't think this book did as good of a job depicting the horrors of the Spanish flu in comparison to Ms. Winter's other book, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The flu plays an important role, but I didn't feel the terror and helplessness that I did in Shadow. There weren't as many details on the flu, and I didn't feel like it had as strong of an impact.
- I struggled a tiny bit with the romance. I wasn't a fan of the way it started out.
- This is a tiny niggle, but I found that I was missing the amazing historical photos that were present in her other two books.
The Uninvited is a haunting tale that transports the reader back to 1918 when World War I raged on and the Spanish Flu decimated the country. It is a time of fear, hatred and confusion as the world feels like it is on the verge of the apocalypse. Yet during the mayhem, one young woman attempts to right a wrong by seeing beyond fear and prejudice. I loved the writing, the story, the attention to detail and the shocking paranormal twist that you won't see coming. Cat Winters is an author that has leaped up the ranks on my go to list. I highly recommend checking out one of her books.
"The head makes war but the heart makes peace. And thankfully, the heart ends up ruling more often than not."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Don't miss Ms. Winters other novels:
Tune in here tomorrow for the Wicked Posts.