Title: Odd & True
Genre: YA Paranorma/Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 12th, 2017 by Amulet Books
Format: Kindle ARC
*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are from me*
Synopsis: Odette and Trudchen grew up noticing strange things about their parents, noises out in the woods and the amulets and trinkets all around the outside of the house. Odd thinks monsters are real and wants to continue her family’s monster slaying duties, while True doesn’t believe as much. But when a few years go by and Odd returns for her sister, they embark on a journey to not only see if monsters are real, but other dark secrets as well. The story is told in two timelines, with Odd’s POV in the past and True’s POV in the current year of 1909 where they embark on the journey.
After reading Cat Winter’s debut novel, I fell in love with her writing, atmosphere and the way she told a story. Then I saw her newest release on NetGalley and wanted a chance to read more by her. Once they granted my request, I quickly dove into this story to see how I would enjoy it.
- Disability Rep: True was struck with polio as a child and suffers from a shorter leg. She uses a metal brace and a cane for short distances, but also uses a wheelchair for longer distances. Cat Winters really captures what it was like for those who suffered from polio during the early 1900’s. True is uncertain of where she’ll go in life because she feels restricted by her disability. But her sister never sees her as a cripple and doesn’t use that kind of language. As the novel continues, True finds her inner strength to become an example of living with your disability and not letting yourself be kept back by it. There’s also a touching part towards the middle where True wants to be an example to a little girl who had been struck with polio and it was really touching to see that. I think Cat Winters gives us a great example of someone who doesn’t let their disability control their life.
- Chapters in the Past: True’s chapters are in the present 1909 and Odette’s chapters are in the past, starting in the late 1800’s and goes up until the day before their reunited. Odette truly shines in these past chapters. The way she protects her sister through their abnormal childhood, as well as rising against the adversities with their family. These were the strongest chapters with the dark atmosphere, mystery of the supernatural and also unmasking how people hide their secrets and their true intentions. These chapters also reminded me of the looming darkness that her debut novel In the Shadow of Blackbirds did.
- Setting: The author continues to give us a lively and transporting setting of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The desolate houses, dark woods, isolated farms and busy cities in the novel. The farm that True lives on with her aunt for so long feels lonely and stark compared to the train rides and dark woods later in the book. I felt like I was riding along with these two sisters in search of answers as well as monsters. The showdown at the end in the woods felt scary and intense.
- Family Dynamics: Seeing how both sisters grow throughout the novel was realistic and fun to read about. They both butted heads, keep secrets and question the truth of monsters, family and themselves. Their relationship felt very real even though I’ve never had a sister. The other family members you see in this book had their own distinct voices and personalities. You question some, hate some and enjoy the entire ride. Some of the fates of family members are left open ended, but that felt like a great choice since the entire family isn’t the main focus.
- Ending: Oh man, the ending was wild, touching and had a touch of magic. I loved how Winters closed the novel, with talking about a story never being truly over and seeing everything come full circle. I wondered if I had a couple things figured out, but the author turned the tables in a clever way and it all got summed up nicely.
- Pacing: There was a good chunk of the novel after the middle that started to lose steam before the end. It was moving slowly and I ended up skimming some of it to get to the good parts. I feel like the book could’ve been trimmed a little bit to tighten things up.
- Slight Predictability: There was one character path presented in the novel that was overall effective, but I felt like it was a bit too predictable. I feel like there could’ve been more mystery added to it for more tension.
- A Bit Unrealistic: There was a moment towards the end of the novel where I feel like Odette went out of character and wasn’t paying attention to what was going on. The situation was intense and I feel like she wasn’t treating it very seriously. It’s a small nitpick, but I feel like that out of character moment took a little away from the story.
This a really solid novel from Cat Winters. Having read two of her books now, she’s definitely an auto read author for me. She puts so much passion, research and masterful writing to create mature YA stories. I did like her debut novel better, but I liked how she developed the two sisters, revealed dark family secrets and a fun ending. If you’ve been waiting for another Cat Winters book, definitely go pick this up once it comes out next week!
Rating: .75 stars
Have you read this book? Which Cat Winters novel is your favorite? Has this been an anticipated release for you?