Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
“Scene: Oregon, 1923.
Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man
Hank Denney, her father—a ghost
Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother
Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney
Members of the Ku Klux Klan
Townspeople of Elston, Oregon
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?”
I have read all of Cat Winter’s previous books and enjoyed them all . This was another well done supernatural mystery of sorts set in the 1920’s. The story deals with ghosts, the KKK, and also takes a look at issues of race and sexual orientation that were being dealt with in the era…specifically in Oregon.
I enjoyed the characters, thought the mystery was well done and also loved all the history that was incorporated into the story. Hanalee is a wonderful heroine, she is a good girl but also believes that she should have the same rights of everyone and not have to live in fear. She is plucky and strong and outspoken but also vulnerable. None of the side characters are developed quite as well as Hanalee is, except maybe Joe Adder. Joe is a teenage boy who has recently got out of jail for hitting and killing someone while driving drunk.
There are a lot of historical and social issues dealt with in this book. The Ku Klux Klan haunts these pages and it was interesting to see that history. Hanalee is the child of a mixed marriage and she is being made to pay for the sins of her parents so to speak. Again, it was interesting to see how society reacts to Hanalee and how clear her view is of how people see her. Not all people are bad and many accept Hanalee for who she is not how she looks; but not all people are that open-minded either.
The book was well written and ended up being very hard to put down. The story starts a little slow, but really picks up after the first couple chapters. There is an excellent afterward showing a timeline of laws involving race/sexual orientation that were passed in Oregan from the 1900’s to current day. Additionally this book is meant to be a sort of retelling of Hamlet which is clever and unique as well.
Overall I really enjoyed this book a ton. I loved the blend of supernatural, mystery, and history and really enjoyed how the book dealt with all the societal issues of that era. If you are a fan of supernatural history or just historical accounts of the 1920’s in general I would recommend this book. I enjoy Cat Winters as an author because she writes in such a unique niche and does it well. I look forward to reading her next book when it releases.