In the Shadow of Blackbirds

BOOK: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
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IN A CITY FILLED WITH
THE DEAD AND DYING,

 

WHILE A NIGHTMARISH
WAR RAGES HALFWAY
ACR
O
SS THE WORLD,

 

THE GRIEVING L
O
O
K
F
O
R ANSWERS IN
PH
O
T
O
GRAPHS AND
SÉANCES.

 

IT’S 1918. SAN DIEG
O
.

 

AND A GIRL WH
O
D
O
ESN’T
BELIEVE IN SPIRITS

 

STEPS
O
FF THE TRAIN
AND INT
O
A NEW LIFE . . .

 

 

 

 

 
 

Image Credits

Page vi: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ds-01290;
this page
: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZ62-8278;
this page
: National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library;
this page
: Wm. B. Becker Collection/PhotographyMuseum.com, © 2013 The American Photography Museum, Inc.;
this page
,
this page
,
this page
, and
this page
: Courtesy U.S. National Library of Medicine;
this page
: National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library;
this page
: National Archives (165-WW-269B-25)

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Winters, Cat.
In the shadow of blackbirds / Cat Winters.
p. cm.

Summary: In San Diego in 1918, as deadly influenza and World War I take their toll, sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort and, despite her scientific leanings, must consider if ghosts are real when her first love, killed in battle, returns.
ISBN 978-1-4197-0530-4
[1. Spiritualism—Fiction. 2. Ghosts—Fiction. 3. Influenza Epidemic, 1918–1919—Fiction.
4. World War, 1914–1918—Fiction. 5. San Diego (Calif.)—History—20th century—
Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.W76673In 2013
[Fic]—dc23
2012039262

Text copyright © 2013 Catherine Karp
Book design by Maria T. Middleton

Published in 2013 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. Amulet Books and Amulet Paperbacks are registered trademarks of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Amulet Books are available at special discounts when purchased in quantity for premiums and promotions as well as fundraising or educational use. Special editions can also be created to specification. For details, contact [email protected] or the address below.

115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
www.abramsbooks.com

For Adam, Meggie, and Ethan,
who patiently share me with my characters

 

 
Contents
 

1 A Year the Devil Designed

2 Aunt Eva and the Spirits

3 Mr. Muse

4 The Mysterious Island

5 A Transparent Figure

6 The Buzz of Electricity

7 Death

8 The Expert

9 Blue Smoke and Whispers

10 The Butterfly and the Lightning Bolt

11 Phantom

12 Come Talk to the Spirits

13 Ugly Things

14 Stay Safe

15 The Weight of Souls

16 Of Rats and Crows

17 Keep your Nightmares to Yourself

18 The Pirate King

19 A Bloodstained Sky

20 Paul Spitz

21 The Compass Phenomenon

22 Living and Breathing

23 The Cage

24 Discoveries

25 Cousin Gracie

26 Soldier’s Heart

27 The Darkest Hours

28 Stephen’s Room

29 Death, Again

30 I Do Lose Ink

31 Mary Shelley Black

  
Author’s Note

  
Acknowledgments

  
About the Author

 

• Portland, Oregon—October 16, 1918 •

 

I STEPPED INSIDE THE RAILROAD CAR, AND THREE DOZEN
pairs of eyes peered my way. Gauze masks concealed the passengers’ mouths and noses. The train smelled of my own mask’s cotton, boiling onions, and a whiff of something clammy and sour I took to be fear.

Keep moving,
I told myself.

My legs shook and threatened to buckle, but I managed to clomp down the aisle in the brown Boy Scout boots I wore in case I ever needed to run at a moment’s notice. The heavy tread drew unwanted glances and at least one raised eyebrow, but nobody uttered a word.

“Good morning,” I said to a woman with a puff of black poodle curls crowning her head.

“Morning,” the woman grunted into her gauze.

As I had hoped, all eyes soon lost interest in me and drifted back to their own concerns. I was merely a healthy-sounding sixteen-year-old girl in a navy-blue dress. I didn’t talk like a foreign spy, and I wasn’t sick with the flu. No harm there.

Coal-colored traveling suits paired with fresh cotton masks gave the compartment a surreal black-and-white appearance, blurred slightly by the onion scent snaking in from the dining car. I imagined the cooks dicing up the pungent bulbs in a mad scramble to keep the flu from overtaking the train, their eyes watering, their foreheads dripping with sweat. I blinked away the sting of the air and took the sole empty seat, beside a woman of middle age and stout build, with thick arms and thicker eyebrows. An anti-influenza pouch reeking of medicine dangled from her neck, overpowering even the onions.

BOOK: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
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