Category Archives: Alex Bledsoe

Rabid Reads: "The Hum and the Shiver" by Alex Bledsoe

The Hum and the Shiver
by Alex Bledsoe
Tor Books (2011)
304 pages
ISBN 9780765327444
I received an advance uncorrected proof of this novel early in the summer, eager to read my first Alex Bledsoe novel after hearing good things about Blood Groove and Dark Jenny. But what I wasn’t expecting, even after reading the plot summary on the back of the book, was the kind of story Alex had cooked up in The Hum and the Shiver.
Set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Private Brownyn Hyatt has returned home to great fanfare as a wounded war hero from Iraq. She doesn’t feel like a hero, however, emotionally wounded as well as physically. Her real healing begins once back home with her parents and younger brother in the hills outside of town, among her people, the Tufa, a rather mysterious race with no known origin–they were simply there when the European settlers arrived. Music plays heavily in the Tufa heritage, and it’s through Brownyn’s reintroduction to music through her mandolin, Magda, she hopes to start feeling normal again.
But, a haint is looming around her family’s home, a ghostly omen that waits for Brownyn with a threat of death in the family–and not necessarily hers. If spirits weren’t haunting enough, her past comes back to visit her as well. A wild child with a reputation as “The Brownynator”, her restless spirit is still trying to find its way, as her ex-boyfriend tries to rekindle their hard-edged romance, and reporters lurk around every corner to get her life story. Not to mention, a new preacher in the area is compelled to get to know the aloof war hero, too.
While I originally thought this novel would concern itself primarily with the haint and its deathly premonitions, and what Brownyn must do to prevent someone close to her from dying, the book is much less plot driven than it is hinged on the strength of its characters. Brownyn is at once tough as nails, but vulnerable to her fiery demeanor and aimless recovery. And the specter of death poses as much a threat to her reliving her trauma in the war as it does to enduring any impending tragedy in the family. She’s the kind of girl, who at arm’s length would earn the reputation as promiscuous and an all-round bad seed, but there’s a genuine and sympathetic story to how she earned that reputation.
The supporting characters came off equally strong too, with a steely father who wants to protect his daughter without coddling her, and a mother who is relieved to have her home, yet harbors her own tumultuous emotions around Brownyn’s return and future. The preacher is likable as well, offering a great outsider’s view of Brownyn and the Tufa, as he tries to learn more about her and build a congregation among a people with no need or want of him and his religion. Even the “villains” are spared the standard template and given sincere motivations for their behavior. Her ex-boyfriend might be a grade-A dick, but at least you learn why and can relate to a small degree.
The book does take its fantastical turn about halfway through, and honestly, I found it a bit jarring when it happened. I was worried it might throw the pace of the novel off and send the story veering off into left field, but once those elements were finally brought out into the open, it all seemed to fit quite well. I did find there was one character, the reporter with a Tufa connection, to be a bit tacked on, it didn’t really hinder the story. As a whole, the book is as much a modest bit of magic as the Tufa. Strong storytelling, damn near perfect characterization and dialogue, and a wholly satisfying end. I’m even more eager to read more of Alex’s work after reading The Hum and the Shiver, and I bet you will too.
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Filed under Alex Bledsoe, book review, fairies, fantasy, folklore, Rabid Rewind, The Hum and the Shiver

Chasing Tale (August 4th, 2011): Alex Bledsoe, Christa Faust, Gary McMahon …

I found out in July that my favorite online bookstore, The Book Depository, was bought out by Amazon. Since then, book prices at Book Depository have been going up. If they get rid of the free worldwide shipping and Paypal payment method … well, I think Amazon will have effectively quashed their competition, not just acquired it.

And Amazon, despite their best efforts, ain’t the only show in town. Not yet, anyway.

While I got a couple of bargains from Book Depository, I also won a couple books over the last couple of months that turned up in my mailbox.

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe – I won an ARC copy of this book from Alex, a promising fantasy/horror novel coming out in October through Tor, about a Iraq war veteran who returns to her hometown in Tennessee, followed by an ominous spirit, and receives dire omens. I’ve got one of Alex’s novels on my wish list, a vampire tale called Blood Groove, so until I get my hands on that one, I’m pleased to have a chance to read his newest work.

Money Shot by Christa Faust – After reading a couple recommendations for a book called Chokehold, I did some Googling and discovered it was a sequel to this book. After checking out the cover and the pitch for it, I couldn’t resist. A porn star out for revenge? Yup. I’m gonna get a kick out of this one.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock – Teresa wrote a guest blog post in July titled, “Wicked WomenRule,” as part of her blog tour to promote this novel. I’ve since received a signed copy for review and will be diving into it very soon.


The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon – I won this book via a giveaway hosted by The Lucky Ladybug. Considering the good reviews this author has gotten for previous works, I am very interested to see how good this one is, which is supposed to be the first in a trilogy (or series).

Mistification by Kaaron Warren – Every once in a while a story about a magician will captivate me. Peter Straub’s Shadowland and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter being to prime examples. So, when I heard about this book, which was released earlier in the summer, I put it on my wish list and was fortunate enough to win a copy from Ruth over at My Devotional Thoughts.


Loss of Separation by Conrad Williams – At the start of the year, I highlighted five anticipated horrornovels for 2011, which included this one. As it stands, this will be the first of those five that I’ll get to read. Conrad Williams is an author whose work gets recommended now and again, but is also one of those authors that doesn’t get any real estate on the shelves of bookstores in my neck of the woods.




So, that’s what came in this month.

Where do you go online when you shop for books? Are there any websites you refuse to buy from?

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Filed under Alex Bledsoe, Amazon, Book Depository, book shopping, Chasing Tale, Christa Faust, Conrad Williams, Gary McMahon, Kaaron Warren, Teresa Frohock