Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Imprint: Amulet Books
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Age Group: Teen & YA
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 4/5
I was very excited to see a new book by Cat Winters available on Net Galley as I really enjoyed In the Shadow of Blackbirds that I read during the Big Library Read. Cat again takes us on a historical and supernatural journey with the tale of two sisters who just might be a bit more than they realize. My first thought was that this seemed like a turn of the century Supernatural tale only with sisters instead of brothers, which was ultra appealing!
Of necessity this review may be a bit spoilery, so if you don't want to know more, just know that I enjoyed this tale, and recommend it if you are interested in mystery, sister relationships, past events shaping personalities, and that wonder of supernatural things that might be real, even though you think maybe not, but then maybe, but you're not sure.
Od and Tru are sisters, that for reasons we aren't sure of yet, live with their aunt on her farm. It opens with Tru imploring Od to tell her a favorite tale, which Od obliges. This tale is a special one that Od has crafted with love for her little sister, to give her a life full of magic and mystery, to spare her the hard life truths that she's already experienced, and that are still to come. As the girls get older, Od continues to hold to these myth's of their family, that their mother was a monster hunter, that each family member has different powers, that they are special, and have a duty. Even through leaving home for a few years and coming back one night to get Tru to leave the farm with her, she clings to these ideas, to the point where Tru is beginning to believe that her sister has gone crazy.
A last second leap of faith leads Tru to run away with Od for an adventure, though she's still not entirely sure of her sister's sanity. Tru has seen some signs of her own that give her that push she needs, and away they go on a train to they aren't immediately sure where, following their childhood dream of monster hunting.
The chapters alternate between Tru's current telling of events, and Od's recounting of their lives to that point, so we slowly find out the truths and the disappointments that have made Od into who she is. She's far from crazy, but she is brave, and loving and determined.
This story is very much a study of personality and being shaped by your past, also by what you are told at a young age, and what you are not. Od and Tru were at once too sheltered, but also neglected in important ways by the adults in their lives. Tru, kept in a childlike role from her illness and not allowed to make that move into adulthood, and Od being thrown into adulthood without being prepared and then punished for the mistakes that resulted. Through it all, their love as sisters remained a mainstay for them.
This is a story with so much heart, with an interesting historical backdrop, and that keeps teasing you along, never quite giving you that final answer, is it real, or not? Cat Winters has definitely shot up on my list of authors to keep track of, and I look forward to catching up on her previous books as well.