I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of Blackbird Summer by Em Shotwell. I've been looking forward to reading it since I saw her pitches during a Twitter pitch party over a year ago.
Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down! The characters, the story, the world, drew me in and refused to let me go. It was one of those books that you didn't want to end.
The story takes place in the small town of Brooklyn, Mississippi. We meet the Caibre family, who are shunned because of their various Gifts. Though the family doesn't cause any trouble, the residents of Brooklyn avoid them, of course unless they need the family's services. Because of this, the family keeps to themselves.
21-year-old Tallulah Caibre wants to make her own decisions about her life, but that's not the way things work in the Caibre family. Those with Gifts are supposed to follow the path set out for them. For Tallulah, that means marriage and helping to home school the children. When she meets Logan, she's even more determined to find happiness on her own, especially since he doesn't care about her family's reputation.
Tallulah's dreams of a life of her own are shattered when tragedy strikes the family and the town seems to rise against them. She's is determined to find out who is attacking her family. She soon finds herself torn between what she wants and her duty to her family.
Em had me hooked right from the start. I loved Tallulah and her, stubbornly independent sister, Delia. All her characters jumped off the page. They had great depth, each with their own personality and I could relate to them. For anyone who's grown up in a small town, like myself, you can understand Tallulah's desire to escape and do something more with her life.
I was amazed at the depth of emotion Em captured. I was so drawn in that I got teary in several parts of the book. The dynamic in the family was perfectly captured and I found that parts were written as only a parent could. There were times where Tallulah saw her parents struggle or they said things that really resonated with me on the parental level. There were parts in the story where I cheered out loud or gasped because I knew something was coming. It was an emotional rollercoaster and by the end of it, I felt that I had taken a journey...which is a good thing.
The world building was wonderful. I enjoyed the different gifts the family had and the way they lived. You could understand Tallulah's frustration with the status quo, but also understand why the family lives as they do. I really got the small town feel from this book. As I mentioned, growing up in a small town of 1500, I could relate to a lot of things in the book. Em did a wonderful job of capturing some of the challenges of living in a small town.
The characters weren't the only reason I couldn't put this book down.The suspense kept me reading as well. When someone started targeting the family, I to keep find out who it was. She does a wonderful job of leading the reader along without giving away too much and keeping you wanting more. I was questioning who it was up to the end.
If you enjoy urban fantasy (though this one may be tagged as rural fantasy) and stories about family with a side of a love story thrown in, Blackbird Summer is a must read. I can't wait to read the next one in the series.
Blackbird Summer will be released on April 5, 2016. For more, visit Em Shotwell's blog, Goodreads, or her Facebook page.