Author: Cat Winters
Blurb: (from goodreads) 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.
"I admit I had seen a ghost or two."
I have a hard time reviewing books I've given 5 stars. Because if I am giving a book 5 stars - it's because I am utterly in love with the story and the characters. Way too in love to be particularly coherent when expressing why. But I'm going to give it a try.
The first thing that really got me about this book was the setting. I read quite a lot of historical novels, so it's quite surprising that I don't think I've ever read about the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Nor was I quite aware of just how terrible the prejudice towards Germans was at this time. It's quite chilling to read about the things done to Germans living in America whilst the police turn a blind eye. I really loved the atmosphere of the book, it felt very real to me and whilst I was reading I became completely absorbed, as though I were actually there. Cat Winters' writing style is so beautiful and haunting.
Ivy was a very intriguing character, I found myself drawn to her and almost cheering her on. She started the book as a recluse who rarely, if ever, left her parent's home and so had lost touch with all her friends. Over the course of the book she makes her way more and out of her comfort zone and I loved watching her emerge and gain confidence. She was a really easy character to support and, like the setting, she felt like a real person to me. The side characters were all well written and interesting in their own right and in their relationship to Ivy - all of them playing a part in her return to life. Daniel is one of my new favourite characters. He was very haunted himself, and since he never interacted with anyone but Ivy their relationship was quite interesting to read.
This story was surprising in so many ways. There is a major plot twist - possibly my favourite of the year - and whilst I'm sure I should have seen it coming, I didn't so I had to just sit there and absorb everything for a few minutes! And also, this was a book I was expecting to be good, something interesting or romantic or creepy. I was not expecting to find one of my favourite books this year. Or an author I am fairly sure will now be on my auto-buy list.
If you're on the fence about this book, then please - read it. I can guarantee you will not regret it. I already know I will be re-reading this book. Probably soon. And I know that re-reading it will be a wonderful experience. I look forward to seeing all those plot-twist-clues and reminding myself how dumb I was not to spot them the first time around. And I especially look forward to reading more by Cat Winters, because if The Uninvited is anything to go by, they should be instant favourites.