I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Odd & True by Cat Winters
Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction
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 was my first book by Kat Winters. I’ve read quite positive reviews about her other books and made a mental note to eventually read one of them. So, when I saw this book posted on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to read it. Plus, the badass cover totally caught my eye and the description peaked my interest. While the book wasn’t necessarily what I thought it would be, that didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed reading it.
Before I go into why I adored this book, I do want to say that it’s not really about monsters at all. Well, not about mythical monsters like vampires, werewolves, etc. It’s an examination of monsters people face in their everyday lives, hard choices and a tough reality. Sometimes we just need to tell ourselves stories about princesses, monster hunters and castles to take away the pain or to protect others from things that they are not yet ready to face.
The beginning of Odd & True was a bit slow. The first few chapters felt like a chore to get through but then everything changed. I was completely hooked and enchanted by the story’s main characters, Od and Tru. I enjoyed reading a book about a close relationship between sisters. It seems that lately all I’ve read about are relationships of a romantic nature or between friends. While I loved Od for her strength and endurance, Tru really stood out for her empathy, resilience and intense loyalty. Both young women grew so much as the story progressed and I loved how protective they were of each other. We need more relationships like this in YA! The narrator of the chapters alternated between the two sisters and nothing was ever as it seemed. I was never totally sure what was real and what wasn’t…which point of view was reliable?
The writing was fantastic! The descriptions really enhanced the reading experience…it was mysterious, dangerous and full of magic! The locations featured in the story were also a key aspect that really sold the story for me. The beginning takes place in late 1800s California where everything is sunny and bright, while much of the book is set in early 1900s Oregon and the mid-Atlantic states. The contrast between dark and light, good versus evil, the past and the present perfectly set the tone of the book and atmosphere of the book. And the ending…well the ending just floored me. It was perfect in every single way! I do want more from these characters and I have my fingers (and toes) crossed that Ms Winters will write another book or novella. Please?!?!
It was hard to end this book! I sat and stared at the last page for a while and sighed. I read it while waiting for my flight and didn’t realize how quickly I read through it. So, don’t let the slow start turn you off because once things get going, it’s a non-stop adventure. You really need to read this book!
About the Author
Cat Winters is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of four novels for teens: In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Morris Award finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013), The Cure for Dreaming (an Amelia Bloomer Project pick), The Steep and Thorny Way (a Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2016, Junior Library Guild selection), and the forthcoming Odd & True. She has also written two novels for adults, The Uninvited and Yesternight, and contributed to the young adult horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.
Winters was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and kids.