I thought I would not be able to finish this book in time – September belongs in a loony house. But, this book just got more and more gripping as I continued reading, so, naturally, I pulled an all-nighter and am now extremely bone-tired. But, review first!
Title: The Hum and the Shiver
Author: Alex Bledsoe
Genre: Fantasy, magical realism
Synopsis and impressions:
Down in the hidden nooks of Appalachia, secrets are buried deep and forgotten. The Tufa people, reclusive and hostile to strangers are tucked in the silence of these hills, their songs linking their stories through the generations. A very beautiful and realistic bit of world-building, I must say, with familiar myths woven in so expertly – I was thrilled to read it! I just love Alex Bledsoe’s use of music in his world – there’s something so transcendental and ancient about music and it just glued my eyes to the page.
The story focuses on the main character, Bronwyn, who is completely opposite from the Tufa community she grew up in, making her a black sheep of sorts at the beginning of the book. She was injured while performing a heroic rescue and is sent back home to recuperate mentally and physically. Waiting to greet her is a creepy “haint/ghost”, and the big mystery is finding out what it wants from her. Bronwyn is a very likeable character – strong (and not just from her military training), but also with realistic flaws leaving room for satisfying character growth. The story is really about her and her self-discovery and how she re-traces her identity back to her roots. It’s not hard to fall into the shoes of most of the other characters, too, and get dragged into the story (joyfully, of course). They’re fleshed out pretty realistically, and their reactions to the clash of the modern world with their quiet, hidden one, makes an interesting entertaining read.
The pacing of the story may be a bit slow for some readers, but it was just right for me! The title captures the feeling of the story very well… a bit of shivery-ness in a rumbling hum, is how I imagine it. I was surprised at how much I would enjoy this read, though I did suspect it…
She wanted to stare straight ahead, at the fresh lines painted on the highway after the state repaved it earlier in the spring, but there was no resisting the pull of the mountains. At first she looked only with her eyes, cutting them enough to see the lush trees and rolling slopes visible past the MPs standing at the deck rails beside her. But like that first taste of liquor to an abstaining drunk, it only made it worse. The leaves sang to her, tunes blew through the breeze, and for a moment something that had been silent and still since she’d left this place vibrated deep in her chest. But it was only a moment; like everything else, it faded to numbness and left her aware of its presence but unable to actually feel lit.
Except somehow, she sensed danger. Not the immediate kind as she’d known in Iraq, but real nonetheless. It was like a shadowy animal glimpsed over the tall grass that ducked out of sight the instant before she turned to look directly at it.
Now, I’ve received my copy from the lovely people at prbythebook.com. Thank you very much! They have offered to give away a copy to a reader! How nice are they?
Anyway, if you are interested in reading this gem (and you live Canada or the US), please e-mail me your information at this_is_shar(at)live(dot)com by Oct. 7th. Include your name and address and I will pick one person at random to receive their copy!
Don’t make me repeat this information like one of those annoying telecommercials! 😛
Rating: 4 troubled musicians