Friday, July 24, 2015

ARC Review: The Uninvited - Cat Winters

The Uninvited by Cat Winters
Genre: Adult, historical fiction, supernatural
Published on August 11, 2015
Published by William Morrow
Pages: 368
Read From: 7.12.15 - 7.22.15

Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the flu, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. 

But Ivy's lifelong gift - or curse - remains. For 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 older 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. But as her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and Ivy has no inkling of the otherworldly revelations about to unfold.


Dear Uninvited,

Having been written by Cat Winters, I knew I would love you. And I looked forward to seeing what she did in an Adult novel versus her usual genre: YA! The era and the premise all sounded wonderful and spooky and intriguing - something I have come to expect from this author. So I opened you with bated breath, anticipating the usual enjoyment I find in her supernatural historical fiction. Oh, Uninvited, what an incredible disappointment you were.

It's 1918, World War One is raging and the Spanish flu grips the world. Ivy Rowan has just recovered from it herself on the night that her father and brother return from murdering a German in town after they received news of Ivy's other brother Billy's death overseas. Sickened by their crime, Ivy packs up her bags and moves in with May - the gorgeous war widow in town. Ivy is torn up with guilt over what her family did, and to make amends, she determines to help the brother of the murdered German in any way she can. But even in this, she can't find peace. For reasons unknown to them, the Rowan women have always had the ability to see the Uninvited - ghosts - of loved ones when the death of another is near at hand. And Ivy is seeing them with more and more frequency.

What a promising plot! Ghosts, the Great War, the flu, fear-fueled prejudice, a friendship - then romance - formed through mutual guilt and pain. It's absolutely my type of read. So where did you go wrong? I did like Ivy Rowan as a protagonist; she stands by what she believes to be true, And I even liked Daniel, the brother of the German Ivy's father killed. He has quiet strength while struggling his own loss and demons. All of the characters were vivid and lifelike. I have no complaints there.

But your pace, Uninvited. It took about 200 pages before any ghosts showed up. And when Cat Winters promises ghosts, I expect ghosts. The majority of your page time boiled down to Daniel and Ivy sleeping with each other. I knew it was going to happen; in an Adult novel - and even YA - I am never surprised when the couple has intercourse. But their decision to hop in was quite literally out of the blue and so completely fueled by a desire to forget their guilt and pain. It cheapened what could have been a very romantic relationship to a bitter, disappointing "lose yourself" satisfier. I couldn't at all find Ivy and Daniel's relationship meaningful or beautiful after that.

The rest of your pages, when it wasn't focusing on Daniel and Ivy having sex, was spent with Ivy helping two Red Cross nurses ferry flu victims from their homes to hospitals. And still no sign of any ghosts. There wasn't even any foreshadowing to indicate that maybe something would happen later on. You quickly became a drag to read and my disappointment mounted until I simply didn't want to read you anymore. Where were my ghosts? Where was the melancholy, Gothic-esque atmosphere I was used to? Where was the romance I could support wholeheartedly?

Never one to give up, though, I persevered. And I'm so glad I did. For in your last fifty pages, you revealed a plot twist that made up for every single thing I disliked about you. It was a plot twist that reminded me of why I love Cat Winters' books so much, and I was launched from utter disappointment to complete satisfaction. That was one bloody good plot twist. I saw it coming half a minute before it was revealed and it just made it all the more perfect.

And this is why you are so hard to review. With all of Cat Winters' books, you're very well written and brimming with historical atmosphere. Your characters were good! And that ending was sublime. However, you were mostly a drag to read, as your promised plot of ghosts and foreshadowing was lost among tedious reiteration and a romance ruined by carnal desire. But at least least in the end you did deliver.

Feeling somewhat satisfied,
~ Mara A. ~

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