The Uninvited by Cat Winters
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Odd & True
Published by HarperCollins on August 11th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Historical, Occult & Supernatural
Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the great influenza epidemic of 1918, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.But Ivy's lifelong gift—or curse—remains. She sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked for and unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918, Ivy 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 in the Great War of Ivy's other brother, Billy.Horrified, she leaves home and soon realizes that 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 today, because they could be stricken by nightfall. She even enters into a relationship with the murdered German man's brother, Daniel Schendel. But as her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and terrifying secrets will unfold.
The Uninvited is the first book I have read by Cat Winters but it won’t be the last. I love most historicals and when you mix in ghosts and fantastic writing, I’m completely on board.
Set in the year 1918, the story pulled me right into the life of Ivy Rowan. Ivy is a twenty five year old woman who lives with her parents and brother on their farm when the war and the Spanish influenza hits their small Illinois town. A bit of a twist here is that both Ivy and her mother have always been able to see the ghosts of their family and when they did, it was typically an omen of something else. The story begins with Ivy waking up from being knocked off her feet by the flu to a nightmare. After finding out her brother was killed in the war, she finds out her father and brother did something unimaginable to a local German man and that is the act that pushes her to leave.
On her own for the first time in her life, Ivy heads to town and walks right past the scene of the crime. As she does, she sees the brother of the man who was killed by her father and brother and Ivy immediately feels the need to figure out a way to overcome the guilt she feels. This is where her relationship with Daniel begins. It starts as one where they attempt to comfort each other but it eventually turns into more.
I loved seeing the change in Ivy. She is initially presented as this sheltered, homebody but now that she is on her own, she really does anything she wants to, including helping gather the sick, go to a jazz club, and even have sex for the first time. As she struggles to balance her feelings for Daniel and the anger she has toward the government/war and her family, Ivy also has to figure out what she really wants out of her life now.
One thing I will say here is that Cat Winters writes so beautifully. The way the story flows and the writing itself, pulled me into this time where people were afraid to be seen as unpatriotic and panicked that either the APL or the flu would come for them next. As Ivy begins to connect the dots, she realizes what she needs to do. I can’t really say a lot about what happens as I don’t want to ruin this story for anyone. Just know that while it is a bit of a slow ramp up, the rest of the story moves along well and I thought the ending was perfectly done for these characters.
If you are looking for a story that combines interesting characters, a bit of paranormal, and a twist you may not see coming, definitely check this one out. I am glad I finally had the opportunity to read one of Cat Winters’ stories and I will absolutely be checking out her other books.
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the review copy!