by Cat Winters
It's 1918, and death is everywhere. Mary Shelley Black's best friend, Stephen, has gone off to fight in the war, and the Spanish influenza is rampant. When her father is accused of being a traitor and is imprisoned, Mary is sent to live with her aunt, Eva. Her aunt lives near Stephen's house, and Stephen's brother, Julius, takes spirit photographs, in which the spirits of the dead appear. During a visit, Eva and Julius convince Mary to sit for a picture, and when she receives the photograph, the ghost of Stephen stands behind her. Not long after that, Stephen's insane ghost starts to haunt her, and Mary is thrown into a tangled mystery as she attempts to determine exactly how Stephen died.
Supplemented with photographs, this book is brutally haunting. Because school was closed, Mary is stuck with nothing to do but contemplate the horrors around her, which are emphasized by the gauze masks that everyone wears. There was nothing that really bothered me until the end, although there were a few too many onions for my taste. It ends with a hopeful tone, and everything is tied up except for one thing. It just got dropped out halfway through the book.
I don't know much about this time period, so I can't comment on accuracy.
This book is a 3.7. The writing was good, but not spectacular. I have read books that pull me in and convince me the world is ending, which this book did not. The cover is excellent; it is exactly what this book is like. It was like tea without sugar. Bitter and a bit difficult to drink. This is not a sweet, easy-to-read book, but there is a comfort in having a good book to read.