Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Uninvited by Cat WintersThe Uninvited by Cat Winters
Published by William Morrow on August 11, 2015
Genres: Historical, Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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From the award-winning author of In the Shadow of Blackbirdscomes 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.

Cat Winters has become one of my auto-read authors. Her historical fiction is powerful, beautifully written, and focused on women. She also has this brilliant way of adding paranormal elements to her historical fiction where it still feels so much more like a historical novel than a fantasy. All of this is true of The Uninvited, as it was of In the Shadow of Blackbirds and The Cure for Dreaming. In addition, The Uninvited is the first one of Winters’ novels to really punch me in the feels.

Ivy hasn’t really lived. She stayed home with her family to try to protect her brothers and her mother from her abusive father. Her nickname is Wendy Darling, because that’s exactly how she is. Even after her favorite brother Billy died in the war, Ivy stayed, hoping to be a positive influence on her remaining brother Peter. At 25, Ivy’s a spinster who almost never leaves the house, as she can teach piano lessons from there.

When her father and Peter come home drunk and she finds out they murdered a German store owner in town, Ivy is done. She knows it’s too late for Peter and that she can’t bear to spend another moment with her family. Ivy bravely packs up a few things and heads to a hotel that very night, passing the broken windows of the furniture store and the German’s brother sad and confused at the scene.

Ivy finds a room to let with May, a war widow, and, after saving two girls whose truck had gotten stuck on the train tracks, she starts trying to help save people from the flu too. She is going to live her life and she’s going to do it with a vengeance. There’s this real pall over everything, and Winters’ skill at setting a scene and a mood shines in this book as with the others. It’s cinematic, calling up pictures even in my head when I’m not a visual reader.

As you might expect, Ivy goes to visit the German, Daniel, and to apologize for her family, to try to help. Gruff at first, he ends up letting her stay. Their relationship flares quickly and non-traditionally. A trope I enjoy but don’t see too often is when couples start with the physical and have to try to add the emotional component later. Ivy and Daniel, I ship it.

The Uninvited shows a lot of hatred, violence, and American propaganda. Something that doesn’t get taught too much during the long units on WWI and WWII is the way people from enemy countries got treated. Even Ivy who thinks the hatred of the Germans is horrible doesn’t now how to sort propaganda from truth, wondering, when she first meets him, if Daniel really will smell like beer. When that’s all you’ve been taught and the fearmongering so widespread, it’s hard to separate fact from propaganda.

This book really punched me in the feels. It emotionally gutted me at the end. My body was not remotely ready. I can’t really talk about it to be honest but it was so beautiful. View Spoiler »

Readers of historical fiction would be remiss to miss out on Cat Winters. The Uninvited is another winner.

Favorite Quote:

“The melting pot does nothing but scald and blister right now.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif jazz band some like it hot

7 responses to “Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters”

  1. Hannah says:

    YES! I adored this book. Cat Winters is on my auto-buy, auto-read list forever. All the feels. She just manages the perfect blend of historical, supernatural and feminism.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) – Libba BrayMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yesss, I love her skills with setting and her lush writing. They’re usually not very emotional for me, but this one really got me. Also, totally didn’t see certain things coming, which surprised me.

  2. Ella says:

    You had me at “focused on women” to be honest. I definitely need a book to punch me in the feels, so i’m adding this to my to-read list.

    Great review! 😀

    Naga Sanctuary
    Ella recently posted…Solid Ground ReviewMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      If you really want a strong feminist read, I’d recommend her second novel SUPER highly. THE CURE FOR DREAMING is basically a feminist smash turned into a novel.

  3. Soma Rostam says:

    This sounds like such a great book!
    How come I have never heard of this author before?
    I absolutely ADORE historical fiction
    I am adding this to my TBR right now, cause your review is GOLD
    Your reader,
    Soma Rostam recently posted…ARC Review: Dating Down by Stefanie LyonsMy Profile

  4. Lyn Kaye says:

    What an interesting way to present the war right at home. I’ve never thought about the German fallout in the States, and now I’m adding this to my list, because the people I trust have really loved this one. Also, I am all for exposure to different regions during times of strife.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The MockingbirdsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’d recommend all of Winters’ books. The second one hits you over the head with the message a bit, but I don’t really mind because the message is basically that sexist people are trash, so I’m down.

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