Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Rating: 4/5 stars
This was an very interesting book set during the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918. What really sets this book apart from other young adult books is the setting. There is just so much going on that humanity is struggling with. World War I is in full swing, Americans are paranoid, and the flu is killing people by the millions.
Amidst all this we meet sixteen year old Mary Shelley Black who has been sent from Portland to San Diego to live with her aunt after her father is arrested for anti-war sentiment.
Mary Shelley had a sweetheart, Stephen, but he went off to war. Stephen’s brother has turned to spiritual photography in order to make a living. People are absolutely desperate to see their deceased loved ones, whether they died of influenza or war. Stephen’s brother Julius is more than happy to take advantage of this.
Mary Shelley loves everything mechanical and definitely doesn’t believe in ghosts. However after some horrible events ghostly things start happening around her that she can’t explain. I really enjoyed Mary Shelley and her innovation and curiosity. She was an excellent character and very entertaining to read about.
This book is a wonderful look at the history of the year 1918. It looks into society at that time, medical beliefs, and spiritual beliefs. We get to see women starting to take their place as workers in society. We get to see the strange medical practices people thought would keep the flu away. It is a period of time where humanity is struggling to go on with life.
The whole story has this mystical paranormal element woven through as well which makes things even more intriguing. It’s mostly a mystery but is also a fascinating glimpse into history. There are wonderful photographs from that year throughout which add a lot to the story. In fact the whole book is really well designed so I recommend reading it in paper format.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I honestly think I enjoyed the setting and the history more than the actual story about Spiritualists conning people and about Mary Shelley’s ghostly abilities. I however really did enjoy Mary Shelley as a character and found the story to be very engaging. I would recommend as a good read to everyone; this book gives an excellent look at the year 1918, the Spanish influenza, and American culture during World War I…all in a story that is very engaging.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge