Yesternight by Cat Winters
William Morrow Books, 2016
Available: Paperback, Kindle edition, Audible, Audio CD
In this age of instant gratification, the slow burn novel can be a tough sell for commercial audiences. Horror and suspense readers generally expect the action to move along, but fans of historical novels thankfully are used to this more measured pace, allowing the beauty of the setting to wash over them, building up and surrounding them. Cat Winters strikes gold with Yesternight, a gem of a novel that straddles genres, and has emerged as one of 2016’s strongest efforts in all three genres.
Winters hit the scene running with the impressive Uninvited and Shadow of Blackbirds, writing for both adult and YA audiences. Yesternight leans more towards the adult crowd, fitting easily in the “new adult” genre, but could easily find favor with the high school crowd. It’s the perfect choice for a chilly day when you are trapped at home, looking for a good read.
Set in 1925 Oregon, Yesternight introduces us to Alice Lind, who has the unlikely role of being a female school psychologist, tasked with administering IQ tests to school children. At that time, a woman holding such a job was rare, and succeeding as a professional for the state which depended on providing services for needy students would have been definitely uncommon. Alice arrives and immediately finds a strange task– a seven year old girl who appears to be a mathematical genius, and may be the reincarnation of a woman who was murdered several years prior. Alice, caught between the opposing wishes of the girl’s separated parents, must find a way to solve the mystery of who little Janie O’Daire really is, opening up a dark secret within herself that may destroy who she is. Janie and Alice steal the show as they both struggle to find who they really are, both literally and figuratively, in a world that would rather keep women under the surface.
Gothic in nature, but simmering in its building of the characters, Yesternight is a complex tale with a serpentine plot. The many layers of the characters peel away, leaving the reader to delve into something much deeper, and more enjoyable, than expected. Recommended.
Contains: violence and gore.
Reviewed by Dave Simms.