Title: Odd and True
Author: Cat Winters
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I found this book through a recommendation; I’ve read several of Cat Winters’s short stories, but I haven’t read any of her full novels until now. First of all, the cover, full of supernatural symbols and two girls who look ready to take names and kick some butt, one dark haired and mysterious, the other in blonde braids, wielding an axe with a no-nonsense look in her eye, caught my eye. But once I began to read, I couldn’t put it down; the book goes back and forth between the two sisters: Trudchen, or ‘Tru’ to her loved ones, the younger sister who is wheelchair-ridden after contracting polio as a child, longs for her older sister, Odette, who has left home to work in the circus. When Odd unexpectedly returns, revealing that all the stories she told Tru in childhood may in fact be true, the two sisters set out on a journey to Philadelphia, to find the truth about their family. But it turns out that each sister has her own secrets to hide, particularly from the past. And they will both discover just how much is true about the dark undertaking of their ancestors…
This book was really good; I enjoyed it very much! I liked the way the narrative moved back and forth between Tru and Odd, and it made the pacing really snappy; it felt like this book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go. It also didn’t hurt that the prose was gorgeous, especially from Odd’s point of view. I related to her a lot, actually; she was a passionate, fierce storyteller who used fiction to help her deal with the harshness of reality. I loved Tru, as well, because yay for a disabled main character! It made me so happy, but I also loved her desire to believe in her sister’s fables, despite the fact that she knows that they may all very well be a set of indulgent fantasies. I also really loved her character development. At the beginning of the book, she’s living with her aunt Viktoria, certain that she will be stuck on the farm forever, helping out with chores when the pain isn’t too terrible. By the end, she’s a strong woman in her own right, with fierce monster-hunting skills and power of her own. Odd’s character development was pretty awesome as well; I loved the way she unapologetically embraced her family’s heritage, even though the profession of monster hunting wasn’t exactly acceptable in the late 19th century.
Her character development was really wonderful; I loved her confidence and bravado in a time that sought only to crush her. And the reason behind her sudden departure from home was awful, brutal, and heartbreaking; I was crying through much of the book when that was discussed. The harsh reality of what happened to women in a socially unfavorable situation floored me and was like a punch to the gut. I really admire Odd’s unshakable character and determination, even in the face of tragedy. The tension was also another big factor in the book; I was constantly wondering if the girls did, in fact, have magical powers, or if it was all just a flight of fancy.
I really liked the other characters, too: Odd and Tru’s mother, beaten down by multiple tragedies and the circumstances in her life, their stern Aunt Vik, who has done nothing but shoulder responsibility and walk the straight and narrow path from childhood, their Uncle Magnus, whose charisma and tales of magic and fantasy set fire to Odd’s own penchant for storytelling. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that it ended a bit too neatly. It was good, but I wish there had been more development. Nonetheless, this book was really good, and I enjoyed it! One of my favorite books of 2017! The bottom line: A haunting, beautiful novel about two sisters who may or may not have magical powers, Odd and True was a rip-roaring adventure through 19th century America, full of history, excitement, and more than a little bit of magic, and I loved almost everything about it! Next on deck: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo!