Book Title: The Blackbird Season
Author: Kate Moretti
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 09/26/17
In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.
Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.
And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.
When an author can fluently change the overall feel of each book they write, they have my attention. This is precisely how I feel about Kate Moretti; while you could technically group her last two books as psychological thrillers, the details ensure a wholly separate reading experience. I adored her 2016 publication The Vanishing Year, which was a classic domestic drama, and this year she has wowed me again with The Blackbird Season, a dark, slow burning suspense that was creepy and an overall perfect read for fall. The premise of what caused these birds to fall simultaneously, along with the domestic suspense completely hooked me before I even picked up the book. Marriage+Lies=Having Chelsea’s name written all over it. I actually wondered throughout the entire story if it would take some sort of paranormal or fantastical turn, and while that vibe was present throughout, it remained firmly in the realm of realism.
One of the many downfalls of reading so many exciting, twisty mysteries is the fact that I have to keep my lips shut in regards to plot discussion. You have what you read on the back of the book, but the story is so much more than those couple of paragraphs that you’ll just have to trust me when I say you’ll want to read this and discuss. This would be THE perfect book club read, as there are a multitude of questions that could be discussed on so many levels. There are two factors I want to touch on though: 1) I was blown away by the quality of writing put into crafting the narrative with Alecia as a mother of an autistic son. As a special needs mama myself, it was so refreshing to read a book where I could empathize with every aspect of a character, so much so that I probably sounded like Madea at church to the people around me at the gym. PREACH WOMAN! 2) I felt there was a large plot point unanswered and left up to the reader to determine what they thought happened. While the detective in me wanted to know EXACTLY what happened and why and how and all that jazz, I 100% understand why the author chose to leave it as such and have all the more respect for such a ballsy twist. In a way, it makes the story feel a little more intriguing.
While the relationship between Nate and Alecia is a big feature in the novel, and it’s done well, I also really enjoyed Bridget’s character and how she grows as a person throughout the book. With a multiple POV format for telling the story (four narratives in fact), it would be easy to slack on the development of some of the minor supporting characters, and I was really happy to find out that each narrative was equally well done. If you enjoy the ever popular psychological thrillers that feature domestic drama, but are tired of the abusive relationship plot, I would highly recommend picking up The Blackbird Season. There is still the same level of urgent suspense, but with new ideas in the mix that will keep you guessing throughout. I was completely thrown by the ending and hope that you are too! If you need me you can find me in my corner patiently waiting for Moretti’s next novel. ❤
*Many thanks to the author for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here!
Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year, Thought I Knew You, and Binds That Tie. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and kids. Find out more at katemoretti.com.