Completely unexpected, Odd & True by Cat Winters mushed together sisterly love with folklore, keeping readers questioning whether monsters are merely tales spun to amuse children or something that really goes bump-in-the-night.
When I started, I couldn’t help but compare Odd & True to Supernatural. Siblings banding together after a long separation to hunt for mystical monsters. I mean, it could just be me drawing to that conclusion. However, that similarity completely blew itself out of the water by exceeding it! I was mystified from about the halfway point all the way to the end on the reliability of the narrators and whether or not they are morally good.
The journey begins with sisters Trudchen (aka. Tru) and Odette (aka Od) Grey. Tru was afflicted with polio from a young age, losing function of one of her legs. Od frequently tells her sister legends and myths, not only to keep her mind off the hip pains but it’s also what their Uncle Magnus has been telling them their whole life–that they are Protectors, people who hunt down evil and kill it. The two become separated by their Aunt Viktoria years later, and the true journey begins when Od sneaks back to the old house to smuggle Tru out from the repressive environment.
If anybody is reading this book for romance, you’re not going to find it here. Odd & True is very much a story based on family relationships and their adventures, like a very watered down Game of Thrones. From the beginning I could tell the bond between Od and Tru was special. When people discouraged them in life or kicked them down somehow, they always had each other’s backs. I could read comfortably knowing that Tru wasn’t going to steal her sister’s boyfriend and Od wasn’t going to stick a dagger in Tru’s heart for a stick of butter. But this belief became challenged as I continued reading. I became more and more unsure if the sisters were best together– Maybe the time separated was too much for them to mesh back together. The back-and-forth worry the author incited in me was fantastic, keeping me from getting too comfortable. However, one problem I found was the difficulty to distinguish Od from Tru and Tru from Od. Even if Tru was in a leg brace and Od wasn’t, without reading the heading of each chapter to discern the narrator, I would not be able to tell them apart.
As for the worldbuilding, it’s done medium, if I had to describe it in how meat is cooked. It’s not outstanding but it gets the idea across on taking place in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The pacing is the best part of this entire book. Since the chapters alternate between two characters and time jumps from the past to present, keeping a good pace for two storylines is difficult to achieve. Normally, a reader would favor one event more than the other, resulting in skipped chapters, but Cat Winters definitely kept me glued to both. The best part is the ending, when Odd &True becomes meta and trails off into uncertainty. Now the story could end where it ended a-okay, but the continuous question in the novel goes unanswered.
Completely taking me by surprise with complex conflicts and a thriller vibe, I recommend reading this book without reading any other reviews! I kept mine quite safe from spoilers so you can experience the twist and turns yourself.
RATING: 3.8 OUT OF 5 STARS
Odd & True will be published on September 12th, 2017. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. 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.