Odd & True
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.
Trudchen, a simultaneous dreamer and realist long disabled by a bout with polio as a child. Odette, a gifted storyteller who got kicked out of her home and mixes truth with fiction so well that no one is sure what’s what. Both sisters narrate the novel and neither of them are all that reliable. Tru is overflowing with the fanciful childhood tales Od regaled her with such as being born in a castle, but Od’s written records of their past tell a more mundane story of the girls being the children of a somewhat well off but unhappy family.
If that conflict of truth and stories isn’t enough to keep you reading, the difficult relationship the sisters have with one another will surely do the trick. As Od’s stories and lies unravel, leaving Tru uncertain whether they’re really chasing down a tea-prophesied monster at all, the sisterhood damaged by Od’s departure from home suffers further. They have to fight hard to truly reunite as sisters amid the questions of whether there are monsters out there.
See, Odd & True likes to keep you guessing about whether there’s a paranormal aspect at all. The tea leaves in Tru’s cup showed her the same monstrous figure multiple times and points the sisters to Pennsylvania, but the girls’ unreliable narration leaves you unsure of the truth. Is the figure there or is Tru seeing what she wants to while Od takes advantage of that to be back with her dear younger sister? That suggestion of the paranormal hits juuuuust the right spot.
Also, Cyrus can go drown in human waste. Who is Cyrus, you ask?
You’ll find out and you’ll understand if you read Odd & True.
Cat Winters is one of the most reliable writers of YA historical fiction right now. In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming, The Steep and Thorny Way–all of them are excellent in their own ways and I’m inching closer to reading her adult novels as well. They’re so excellent that it’s hard to suggest which book to start with! Whichever one you like the sound of most, I suppose. Her complex characters and original ideas are sure to win you over no matter which book it is.