Ivy has only just recovered from the flu, but when she hears that her father and brother have murdered a local German shop owner she knows she can’t stay in their house one moment longer. Ivy has always seen spirits – they’re harbingers of bad things to come – and the last thing she can take is seeing the ghost of the man her father murdered.
When she arrives in town, though, she finds that Buchanan has been hit hard by the war and Spanish flu. The hospital is bursting at the seams and turning away patients with the wrong background or address. Fear is a predominant feeling amongst the locals – fear of being called out for being unpatriotic, fear of getting sick, fear of losing one more loved one… Ivy knows that fear makes men like the one her father murdered prime targets but she still feels a responsibility to the dead man’s brother and is desperate to make amends. At the same time, Ivy is certain something awful is about to come to pass. Why else would she be seeing her dead brother at every turn?
Cat Winters makes her adult debut with The Uninvited. It’s historical fiction set in an imagined town that’s pretty wonderfully representative of the era: the undertone of sadness and dread and the overwhelming anxiety of the town certainly feels true to the time.
Imagine watching your brothers, classmates, and sometimes even fathers going off to fight a war against an enemy overseas. Imagine being told that your neighbors could be collaborating with that enemy. And now imagine that a truly deadly and virulent sickness is making its way through your town as well. This is Ivy’s reality and her only relief comes from music and a love that’s pretty much forbidden.
There’s more than a hint of the supernatural to this tale – Ivy does see ghosts, after all – but The Uninvited is somewhat less of a ghost story than I’d initially expected. It’s more a story about human nature and the terrible effects of war. The combination makes for an eerie and emotional read.
8/15 Becky LeJeune
THE UNINVITED by Cat Winters. William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015). ISBN 978-0062347336. 368p.