Author: Cat Winters
It’s 1918 and the flu epidemic is spreading. When Ivy Rowan recovers from the sickness, she discovers that her town of Buchanan, Illinois has been struck hard. Adding to the grief is her brother’s death in the war overseas. In a fit of anger, her father and younger brother beat a young German to death. Sickened by their behavior, Ivy leaves home for the first time. She reaches out to the victim’s brother, hoping to escape the guilt, but Ivy is haunted by the ghosts of loved ones, apparitions that only appear when someone close to her is about to die.
“Before we reached the last row of cots, I witnessed a little boy bleeding from his ears, as well as his nose, and he cried tears of red.”
Cat Winters paints a grizzly picture in The Uninvited of 1918 America where the war in Europe has bred unrest at home. Immigrants, especially those originating from Germany, are regarded with suspicion. Prejudice has given way to discrimination and even murder. Making matters worse is the deadly influenza pandemic, which has taken a disproportionate number of young. Ivy is one of the lucky ones, having recovered from the sickness, but her father and brother take part in a crime that forever changes her life. Having spent her whole life at her family’s farm, even after graduating from school, Ivy’s life has been ruled by the needs of her family and particularly her brothers. Wanting to protect them, she has sacrificed having her own life and as a result isn’t quite sure how to adjust to the real world that she chooses to enter for the first time at twenty five. Ivy must learn to put her own needs, the ones she’s neglected her whole life, first.
The paranormal element to The Uninvited is really interesting. Ivy, as well as the other female members of her family, has an unusual gift. Ivy sees the ghosts of family members long dead. These apparitions though benign, function as a warning. They are harbingers of death, for death always follows their appearance. When Ivy begins to see visions of her dead brother, she fears for those she cares about. As she grows closer to the brother of the man her father and brother murdered, Ivy fears that she may inadvertently cause his death even as she tries to make amends for her family’s crime.
Cat Winters’s The Uninvited is great for those who enjoy historical fiction. It has a rich setting and a powerful narrative about embracing life before it passes you by.