The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti Review

Welcome yourself into a heavy-with-feels book and have a glimpse into the tedious life of failed marriage and widowhood. That's what was instilled on me from the get-go. The Blackbird Season was so gloomy and depressing, the darkness will even follow you in your sleep (if you're an adult). The Stephen King books I read were not even able to infiltrate my dreams. With that, I give this book a lifeless set of eyes for stealing the light out of me for three days (the last day being after reading the book, just me huddling on my bed, moping). I closed the book with a heavy heart and grief that I couldn't place. This book is for the emotional masochist who wants to plunge into the world of intrigue, mystery and thrill. You will not be disappointed.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti Review
The Blackbird Season by
Release Date:
Publisher: Atria Books
Language: English
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
ISBN: 9781501118456
Format: paperback (I got a digital ARC via Netgalley for an honest review)
Pages: 352

Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”


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.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.
Review

The Blackbird Season was riveting, it will pull you right through the veneer of serenity and into the murky depths of an insular town in Pennsylvania. What happens to a little town when its source of income for middling people crashes down? People will salvage for leftovers until nothing is left. Else, seek for greener pastures and start from scratch.

The reading process was a bit of a work. It tires me a bit, yo-yo-ing between dates. The events were not written in chronological order so the whole book is a hodgepodge of flashbacks. The good thing about this multiple POV is that I could also yo-yo from being an adult into an unsure teenager. I love the change in voice. I love the frustration when you're supposed to be an adult but has no control over things happening in your life (and your environment) and both the uncertainty and wonder of the eyes of a teenager.

The story is told through the eyes of four narrators: Nate Winters (the accused), his wife Alecia, his co-teacher and friend Bridget, and his student Lucia whom he's supposed to have an affair with. One of my problems with the characters is that Alecia and Lucia sound so alike, I got confused in the beginning. Yes, I'm terrible with names.

Here comes Alecia, a miserable B of a wife all because for years, she's in denial that her son is autistic. Everything would have been easier if from the beginning, she has her son evaluated at two as a female psychologist suggested. But no, she's so stubborn, still wanting that perfect image of a family, however construed her bias is. I could bitch about this bitch all day and I still will not run out with words. But please, indulge me.

Alecia's routine is stressful and tedious. She practically lived under a rock because she chose to (turns her cheek around from social media; come on, she's not that old). Life is hard on her because she herself is hard on herself. She doesn't give herself a mental break (that I hope she'd have a breakdown) and just won't light up. Seriously, there are tons of parents out there with an autistic child and she's treating herself as if she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders already. She only had one child, she didn't even have to juggle her attention between kids. I don't even understand how Nate ended up with such an unhappy and insecure person when Nate is a generous and outgoing one.

I have no idea how they become a couple, they basically have nothing in common. Okay, you'll find out how in the book. Now, let me skip to the setting.

I can totally relate with the remote setting. I grew up and lived in different cities but my mother's relatives from the province would come to our place and rent a room for a time. Different relatives from the same island, similar stories. In the province, it's almost as if people have nothing to do to quench their boredom but gossip about their neighbors' lives. The things you hear are just terrible that I'm convinced I would never live in a rural/insular area. Well, you get the picture.

I love how initially, Bridget doesn't like Lucia. Every time Lucia is in the same room as her, she's like a dirt trying to cloy into her skin and yet all throughout the whole town affair, Bridget is the only woman who truly cares for Lucia.

When Lucia went missing, women (mostly old wives) chose to help for search and rescue in the thick of a forest. I just love how the imagery there felt so real (the thousands of acres of land, the interactions of people, the nuances of the search), as if I was smacked right dabbed in the middle of the events (this was in Alecia's perspective).

Now back to my favorite B. Nate deserved someone better than the miserable SOB that Alecia is. Damn, how much I hate insecure people, how people just can't come to terms with the concept of aging. I love Alecia's character development at the end though: as if a bright light suddenly shown straight up her face. But still, at the end!

There's a general feel in reading this book. The mood is so similar to that movie Anna of 2014. Like Anna, Lucia is a pretty girl (in Alecia's eyes: white-haired weirdo sex bomb). Apart from being poor (with her dad absent in her and her brother's lives for months), she has a problem of fitting in the school crowd. The jocks (with its king) are attracted to her though like a fly to a midden-heap (because she's poor but a very hot poor girl). But Taylor, her best friend since primary school, has become her beacon of light that got her in the baseball king's crowd.

Nate is a math teacher and the baseball coach of the school. The whole town seems to be fawning on him, with his open heart and *coughs* primarily with his good looks. He's toting his golden boy, Andrew Evans to earn a scholarship in college and to eventually make it to Pro baseball.

If I were to see this Nate in person (if only he's real), I think I will fall in love with him instantly too with the way people describe him.

Bridget:
When he looks at you, it's like you're all that matters.

Lucia:
She watched the boys in the dugout vie for him, just for a second to feel the heat of his eyes, so intense, cut you right to the center like you weren't fooling anyone, to feel the thrill of being called out on your own bullshit... His eyes twinkling, like something out of the paperback romance novels she saw at the library, where every man's eyes sparkled and twinkled like they were all made of glittery icing or pure goodness, and that's what she started to think about Mr. Winters. That he was made of goodness.

The bad thing about Nate is that he's self-incriminating by lying. Sometimes, I think his viewpoint is unreliable (like everyone's favorite B from Game of Thrones, Daenarys).

The book ended in a way that I never expected. The author was good at surprises. There's the dénouement itself and there's the what-I-assume-is-the-epilogue like an after-credits part of the book. I just love how Kate Moretti wrote this riveting story.

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