The Uninvited by Cat Winters

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Title: The Uninvited
Author: Cat Winters
Series: N/A

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.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Editor: April Genevieve Tucholke
Authors: Various
Series: N/A

Ghosts, murderers, and death bring plenty of frights in this horror anthology. Inspired by various mediums from films to classic horror novels to music, these fourteen short stories are filled with thrills, twists, and trepidation. And just when you think you have a story figured out, the surprises are fierce yet strangely satisfying.

“After a while, Richard started getting the distinct impression that someone was watching him sleep. There was a strange weight in his room, as if the furniture or the walls weren’t aligned quite right, and sometimes he would feel that weight press against his chest like a stone.”

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a great collection of horror stories perfect for October. I’m familiar with most of the authors in this anthology, having read books by a large majority of them. Authors like Nova Ren Suma and Jonathan Maberry are sure to bring their personal brand of the strange and thrilling, but I was most impressed by authors like Marie Lu. Best known for her Legend series, Lu weaves together one of my favorite short stories in this book. The Girl Without a Face takes something as simple as a closet that won’t open and turns it into a tale that had me glancing at my own several times, hoping it was empty. April Genevieve Tucholke’s The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh takes you for a ride where you end up rooting against key characters. This is my first reading experience with this author and it won’t be my last.

There were several stories in this anthology which were so good at introducing intriguing characters and exciting storylines that I found myself wanting the authors to turn them into full-length novels. Jonathan Maberry’s Fat Girl with a Knife would make a perfect introduction to a novel about an unlikely heroine battling for survival.  Jay Kristoff’s Sleepless starts off like a cheesy horror-movie where you’re screaming at one of the characters to be smarter, but ends up pulling the rug out from under you and begging for more in the end.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is fantastic for those looking for a quick scare during this Halloween season. While ghosts and killers may be the obvious choice for a horror story, many of these authors select more unconventional characters and what results is a really diverse blend of frightful tales that will surely delight horror fans.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56, #48: The Cure for Dreaming

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join in every Friday, the rules are simple.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

 


“I could see him moving beyond the glass–a distorted figure in a trim white coat, bending over the silhouette of a man tipped back in the padded dental chair. Laughter erupted from the patient, first in snickers, then in loud brays and hiccups that told me the man had inhaled a bag of nitrous oxide…”

Cat Winter’s The Cure for Dreaming was such a delightful book and I’m really eager to pick up more books that deal with women’s suffrage, so if anyone has any suggestions, please share!

From my review:
“Olivia Mead is living in a time of change. It is 1900 and the women’s suffrage movement is gaining steam across the states. But for Olivia, the dream of voting one day is made difficult by her father, who wishes to stanch the wayward passions of his daughter. When the young and talented hypnotist Henri Reverie arrives in town, bewitching audiences, Olivia’s father offers him a job to hypnotize his daughter into accepting what the proper place for a woman is. When Olivia awakens from the trance, she is horrified to discover that the hypnosis has gone awry and she now sees the true intentions of people, manifested through both horrific and beautiful visions.” You can read my full review here.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Series: N/A

Olivia Mead is living in a time of change. It is 1900 and the women’s suffrage movement is gaining steam across the states. But for Olivia, the dream of voting one day is made difficult by her father, who wishes to stanch the wayward passions of his daughter. When the young and talented hypnotist Henri Reverie arrives in town, bewitching audiences, Olivia’s father offers him a job to hypnotize his daughter into accepting what the proper place for a woman is. When Olivia awakens from the trance, she is horrified to discover that the hypnosis has gone awry and she now sees the true intentions of people, manifested through both horrific and beautiful visions.

“The brute’s red eyes gleamed bright and dangerous, and his skin went deathly pale and thin enough to reveal the jutting curves of the facial skeleton beneath his flesh.”

Cat Winters masterfully builds a captivating setting in the first chapter of The Cure for Dreaming that left me completely emerged in its pages. The gloomy atmosphere of the stage performance by Henri Reverie accompanied by a grim rendition of Danse Macabre and the enigmatic entrance of the hypnotist filled me with wistful anticipation. The Cure for Dreaming makes many references to the Gothic novel Dracula and even though I haven’t read it myself, I feel very much compelled to now.

Women’s suffrage plays a major role in constructing the setting of the novel and the characters’ motives. Though a large portion of society frowns upon the voting rights of women, Olivia’s main antagonist in this respect is her father. Dr. Walter Mead, a dentist by profession and a bit of an oddity because of it, would like nothing more than to extract his daughter’s rebellion like a rotted tooth (please note that if you are uniquely sensitive to the specifics of dentistry, you might want to skip this book as there are a couple of scene that can be described as graphic). Irrationally paranoid by his daughter’s support for women’s suffrage, he asks, “Do you ever harbor urges to commit violent acts against men?” This nicely summarizes the state of mind many of those opposed to women’s suffrage had, it is an attack on men rather than an acknowledgement of the equality of the sexes.

Our protagonist Olivia isn’t particularly outspoken and many characters remark on her timidity, but this doesn’t mean that she lacks opinions or conviction. Under challenging circumstance, Olivia finds her voice and the courage to let go of the people holding her back. I really enjoyed The Cure for Dreaming and the various historical photos, advertisements, and quotes accompanying the book gave me a greater appreciation for the obstacles the women of the time had to overcome.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★