Odd & True by Cat Winters
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
The Leeds Devil is rumored to be wreaking havoc in the east in 1909, but across the country in Oregon, fifteen-year-old Trudchen's got her own problems. The leg that polio weakened has only been getting worse, living with her strict aunt is becoming increasingly unbearable, and now her estranged older sister Odette shows up at Tru's window, begging Tru to join her in taking up the family mantle and hunt monsters. Tru decides to go, partly to keep an eye on Od, whose erratic behavior makes Tru question Od's sanity, and partly because it might allow Tru to see their estranged mother. Tru narrates their current journey to Philadelphia in 1909 while, in interpolated chapters, Od tells her own story from Tru's birth in 1894 to 1909. Though elements drawn from folklore and legends lend the atmosphere an eerie feel, it's really Od's story—the true story behind the tall tales she whips up—that brings the most tension and ultimate heartbreak for both girls. The sisters' relationship is deftly drawn, making clear that while they are wildly opposite and hurt each other in many ways, their love for the other is stubbornly resilient. Winters (author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds, BCCB 4/13, etc.) is a master at weaving historical events into dramatic narratives touched by the supernatural; careful attention is paid to the very real panic around the 1909 sightings of the Devil as well as to the journey that Od takes across the country and back. There are monsters here, paranormal and human, but they're no match for two girls skilled in wit and weaponry.