Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chapel of Ease by Alex Bledsoe (Publication date September 6 2016)

I believe in magic. I don't mean the hocus-pocus stuff, but in an underlying magic that is the song and beauty of our world, something, that, if we're very lucky, or very blessed, or maybe blind, stupid drunk, we can occasionally unlock. I think it's that belief that makes me like books that give secret histories-- a magic woven in between our own known world and history that, in the telling, doesn't necessarily change what we, the unmusical, know, but once we learn gives added dimension. I think this is also one of the reasons I like Alex Bledsoe's novels of the Tufa so much. The Tufa are magic hidden in plain sight. And in each of Bledsoe's four Tufa novels, we get a little glimpse of the song that carries them.

This novel, Chapel of Ease, is due out September 6, 2016. I am completely grateful to Diana Pho at Tor Books, for not making me wait that long, and getting me an ARC. Chapel of Ease stands apart from the first three books (The Hum and the Shiver, A Wisp of A Thing, The Long Black Curl) as it is partially set in New York City, but overlaps for a portion of the book with the familiar setting of Cloud County. My experience with the other three books was to get completely lost in the rhythms, melodies, and words laced throughout the story. With this book, though the novel is essentially about a musical written by a Tufa, to open off-Broadway, the music didn't carry me as much, but the telling of the story did. Maybe that's because I also happen to love books that weave two story-lines. And, if one is in the past, and one present day, even better. From the moment this story started, through to the very last lines, it held me. (See plot summary kindly provided by Tor Books here.)

Reading this in the wake of the horrific shooting in Orlando also helped a bit in my processing of that tear in our fabric of humanity. The explorations of differences in groups of people, in sexual orientation, in beliefs, and even in the biases of country vs city/city vs country that were so carefully, and eloquently developed within the plot helped with my own inner dialogue.  It all flowed quite naturally, as a piece of the plot, not like the remuddles I've seen plastered on other stories to bring them up to date. I'm so very happy to have a novel that presents a really interesting non-stereotypical gay man as a main character, not as a sidekick. I, as a straight woman, really liked being inside his head, and in his heart. I also liked yet another glimpse of the magic that may be hidden in our world, and how it may not be confined only to those mountains in Cloud County.

I have to wait a bit for the next novel in the series (even for an ARC) but I will try to be patient. We're headed to our mountain cabin in Rabun county, and I may even dust off my dulcimer. But, before that, I have a big decision to make: which of Alex Bledsoe's series do I explore next?



  1. I wrote down the name of the author when you wrote about this book and finally got around to read the first of the Tufa books while on holiday. I immediately fell into the story and had to read the second one right after it. Thanks a lot for talking about it!

    1. I seriously loved The Hum and the Shiver, and waited impatiently to read the second one. Life got in the way, and I just read the third in the series and also loved it. This continues, but is a stand alone, too. I enjoy this guy's writing so much, that I picked up a non Tufa book a few weeks back, devoured it, too, and am slogging through my reviews to get to it. (Not all my reviews are here, but I do put everything up on Goodreads and LibraryThing, under the user name bookczuk.) So glad I could introduce you to Alex's books!