What We're Reading

What We’re Reading: Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe and #giveaway

wisp-bledsoeEvery once in a blue moon, if you’re lucky, you find a book that gets under your skin and burrows inside and just feels like a good book should feel (yeah, I know that’s vague but you know what I mean, you smart readers). I read one of those last year, the first in a new quasi-paranormal series by Alex Bledsoe called The Hum and the Shiver. It was the story of a young, injured veteran who returns to her home in the isolated Smoky Mountains town of Needsville, Tennessee. (Quasi because it’s mystical but might not quite be paranormal in the way we normally think of that term…or maybe it is…)

But Needsville is isolated for a reason, and Bledsoe unfolds a story of a mystical, gothically haunting people called the Tufa. Are they human, or other? Their native mysticism is drawn from the night wind and the songs that shape their lives and the mountains that rise around them, but is it supernatural in origin, or just the settled ways of a close, remote community that’s had little outside influence?

That’s for the reader to learn, and it’s well worth the journey. Now, the second book in the Tufa series, Wisp of a Thing, is coming out in a week or so, and I’ve been reading an advance copy. I came to it hesitantly, knowing (because I grew up in an isolated rural town myself) that “lightnin’ don’t strike twice in the same place.”

Except when it does. In fact, I think I like Wisp of a Thing even more. The language is lyrical and evocative, and the music that’s so important to the Tufa becomes important to the reader. (I’ve been off tracking down Kate Campbell songs.) It’s a smart book. No dumbing down the storyline so it can be pigeonholed into a standard genre. I’m calling it paranormal but it’s not really, but then again it is. It’s just a damned good book, even though I don’t know what to call it, and I want to share.

So leave a comment–tell me a book that’s made you rush out in search of a song or a bit of music, and I’ll give away a copy of The Hum and the Shiver or, if you’ve read the first one, Wisp of a Thing.

About Wisp of a Thing:

Alex Bledsoe’s The Hum and the Shiver was named one of the Best Fiction Books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews. Now with Wisp of a Thing, Bledsoe returns to the isolated ridges and hollows of the Smoky Mountains to spin an equally enchanting tale of music and magic older than the hills….

Touched by a very public tragedy, musician Rob Quillen comes to Cloud County, Tennessee, in search of a song that might ease his aching heart. All he knows of the mysterious and reclusive Tufa is what he has read on the internet: they are an enigmatic clan of swarthy, black-haired mountain people whose historical roots are lost in myth and controversy. Some people say that when the first white settlers came to the Appalachians centuries ago, they found the Tufa already there. Others hint that Tufa blood brings special gifts.

Rob finds both music and mystery in the mountains. Close-lipped locals guard their secrets, even as Rob gets caught up in a subtle power struggle he can’t begin to comprehend. A vacationing wife goes missing, raising suspicions of foul play, and a strange feral girl runs wild in the woods, howling in the night like a lost spirit.

Change is coming to Cloud County, and only the night wind knows what part Rob will play when the last leaf falls from the Widow’s Tree…and a timeless curse must be broken at last.

17 thoughts on “What We’re Reading: Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe and #giveaway

  1. Gee, I can’t think of any one book were I started searching for music although I have listened to songs that authors listed on their play list while writing their books. This series sounds great.

    • This was one of those funny things, Liz. On my day job, we’d just done a story on singer-songwriter Kate Campbell and I’d started listening to her stuff….then the characters in this book are listening to her stuff….it was sort of cosmic! LOL.

  2. Suzanne, this book sounds awesome. I love it when authors refuse to bend to genre “requirements” and just write the story that needs to be written. I’ll definitely check out this series.

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of it but it sounds intriguing. It’s hard to define what makes me rush out to grab some new music or book. Maybe it’s the indefinable hook that’s most powerful.

    • Maybe it is–there was something about this isolated community and the people’s using music to define their lives and giving power to that music that resonated with me. Really hard to put into words…and I’m supposed to do that for a living!

  4. I loved “The Hum and the Shiver” and am anxiously awaiting “Wisp of a Thing.” This book certainly makes you think about music. I would love to put together a soundtrack for “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern!

  5. I’ve read and enjoyed Bledsoe’s Eddie Lacrosse stories which are quite a bit different from this as I’m currently in the middle of The Hum and the Shiver. No musical references yet, but my thoughts of music from this area fall more into what the Cohen’s recorded many moons ago (“Mountain Music of Kentucky” being one of them) which is haunting in their own right.

    • Hi Ed–yes, these books are very different from the Eddie Lacrosse books, which I also like. These feel less genre-specific to me, although I guess technically they’d fall under paranormal fantasy. I think the music steps up more in Wisp of a Thing than it did in The Hum and the Shiver. And I do think of the old bluegrass music as being what the Tufa music would sound like.

    • Thanks so much! Looking forward to reading it as soon as it arrives! Guess I’ll have to finish up reading my pile.

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