Happy Saturday y’all! I’ve been binging on spooky/creepy reads so far this month and today I want to share with you one I read this week. It isn’t your typical monster book, but I promise you Cat Winters delivers a fantastic read in Odd & True. If you enjoy paranormal, family stories, and historical fiction, I highly recommend you grab a copy to read for yourself!
I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Odd & True by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on 2017-09-12
Length: 368 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017, 2017 New Release Challenge
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.
Odd & True by Cat Winters is not at all what I expected it to be, and yet it was so much more. The blurb delivers a fantastical tale about monster hunters, and while this is semi-true, the real truth behind their adventures will leave you breathless. Told in alternating perspectives and time periods, each sister has a different truth that will set you on edge and break your heart.
Odette Grey is the eldest sister who has spent her life spinning stories to her younger sister Trudchen. Od believes in the paranormal, that her mother is a monster hunter and they are descendant from a great German monster hunter. After being gone for nearly two years, she suddenly returns one night to whisk Tru away on a monster-seeking adventure. But she isn’t the same girl that left. The whimsy has left her, there’s a hardness in her eyes and a sadness that can’t be masked. My heart goes out to this young woman who at 19 has already seen too much how the world works.
Trudchen Grey enters the story on the eve of her 15th birthday. She knows one thing and it’s that she misses her sister. So she makes a wish that Od would return and wouldn’t you know it, just after midnight on her actual birthday it comes true. As a child, Tru believed all of Od’s stories about being monster hunters, her their mother was out there protecting them, and how one day she would return and heal her lame leg (an unfortunate side effect of Polio at age 2). Yet now, she’s grown up and no longer believes the monster stories of her youth. Most can be explained away, except for the divination that Tru seems adept at. Tru is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood. She wants to believe and follow her sister everywhere, and yet she’s skeptical and knows that the real truth is still being hidden from her.
Set around the turn of the 20th century, Od’s circumstances and Tru’s naivety fits. I was easily drawn into their world, the present 1909 told by Tru and the past leading up to the present as told by Od. As Tru confronts certain stories, the real truth behind them is revealed by Od’s past. It’s heart-wrenching, especially when the tagline of the book keeps a running theme in your head: “Not all monsters have fangs and claws.” I loved the period of their youth when they were the happiest. Their Uncle Magnus and their absentee father played a large role. Magnus is probably my favorite of the side characters, truly loving his girls and sacrificing what he can for them. In the present, Od and Tru travel to Philadelphia to hunt the Leeds Devil (or the New Jersey Devil). This became an interesting concept to the story, and I enjoyed the paranormal that was thrown in.
Overall while I enjoyed the story, I couldn’t reconcile with the slow pace. I loved the writing style, I loved the characters and their story, but the pace dragged. I dare say that at parts it was just down right boring. I wound up once I hit the 60% mark skimming to the end. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted the details and I wanted to know the truth Tru sought from Od. It is a beautifully woven tale, but it just moved too slowly for me. If you enjoy historical fiction (because there is a lot of historical fact to this novel), a heart-breaking paranormal tale that isn’t as paranormal as you might think, and a story about the true meaning of family, I highly recommend you grab a copy of the book. Despite it’s slow pace, it is well worth the read.