Friday, September 21, 2012

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

Suppose there was a group of people, deep in the heart of Appalachia, who arrived before the first Europeans -- who had music buried deep into their cultural soul, resounding in all that they do. Whose origins were lost in history, but glimpses could be caught in the very songs that weave through their lives. Suppose these people, the Tufa, rarely leave the glens and hollows of Cloud County, remain close knit, and wary of outsiders.

This is the world, Private Bronwyn Hyatt returns home to as a war hero, after being seriously wounded in Iraq. Once home, there are signs and whispers that point to trouble coming maybe even death. Bronwyn, who was a wild girl in the days before her enlistment, must confront her past, the signs, a haint (ghost for you non-southerners), her vicious ex-boyfriend, to help her family find a balance, a place within the hum and the shiver. And, she must find her music again, plus find her own heart, and her place in the Tufa world.

The book has mystery, a deep-seated spiritual strength, and some folklore. Who are the Tufa and what can they do is more compelling than what happens in the plot at some times. It's an ingenious blending of different worlds.

I cannot remember what prompted me to add this book to my wishlist, but I'm glad I did. And I'm glad Tor Books sent it my way.  I'd not read this author before, and liked the way the story flowed. Plus there was enough olde lore to match the Child Ballads and other old songs brought to life in the book.  It's interesting that the same painting mentioned in this book has been mentioned in another book, with a totally different plot line. SPOILER ALERT (of a minor sort) STOP HERE!!

The painting is Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke, which is a bit of a mystery in itself.  It hangs in the Tate Museum. The author leaves it up to the reader: are the Tufa descendants of the Faerie folk who fled the old country? Read the book, have a look at the Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, and decide for yourself. 


  1. Sounds like my kind of book. Hope you're well!

  2. Send me your address and I'll send it to you, if you want. :)

    I'm toddling along okay. Broke my foot this summer, which slowed me down a bit, but didn't stop me. This getting old stuff is for the birds.

  3. oops I don't have your email address anymore! Can you email me and I'll reply with the mailing address? It's the same username at yahoo. Thanks.

    Sorry about your foot! Those parts probably heal slower than anything else cuz of all the bones in there.

  4. Are you still using romancando at y a h o o ?

  5. Hmmm - I guess my reply to you didn't get through. The romancando one bit the dust a while back. Try my real name, with a dot between first and last at g mail. (Or you can use this screen name at g mail, too).