Every 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.