Review: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

14 comments

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe book cover
The Hum and the Shiver (2011) is the first novel in Alex Bledsoe's Tufa series. Set in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, the novel builds on an old Appalachian myth, and imagines a race of mysterious, dark-haired people, known as the Tufa. Although their origins have long since been lost, the insular community of mountain folk desperately cling to the traditions of their ancestors, passing their mystic songs from one generation to the next. The novel centres on Bronwyn Hyatt, a young Tufa woman, who has recently returned from the Iraq war following a harrowing accident and abduction. Touted as a war hero by the outside world, Bronwyn is known in the Tufa community, from her teenage years, as a promiscuous hell-raiser. The plot follows Bronwyn as she recovers from her injuries, relearning the Tufa ways and dealing with old acquaintances, new suitors, and an underlying threat to both her family and the wider Tufa community.

Bledsoe stitches the Tufa's world neatly to our own, creating a patchwork reality that one can easily identify with. Indeed, the novel has much to say about our own reality; from the role America plays in the world, to the treatment of minorities and the vulnerable by those who struggle to deal with diversity and difference. At its heart though, The Hum and the Shiver is about family, tradition, and community, about making one's way in the world whilst respecting one's roots. Bronwyn provides the perfect centre point for this, a rebellious youth who feels oppressed by the weight of her family's history. The themes are universal, and the supporting characters are drawn sensitively and provide identifiable conflicts for Bronwyn, whether they are Tufa or not.

The plot is subtly constructed, moving at a gentle pace as it creates the world of the Tufa. This is a sign of an author comfortable with his style and respectful of his audience, Bledsoe never feeling the need to contrive scenes of explosive energy to hold the attention, but instead delicately relaying a tale of intrigue and mystery. Sadly, in contrast to the measured style there are phrases that grate and sentences that are poorly constructed. These are infrequent but glaring, and inhibit the overall flow of the story. Towards the end of the novel too, some characters begin to lose shape, acting to propel the plot rather than maintaining behaviour consistent with the personality drawn for them.

In Bronwyn, Bledsoe has created an engaging character and one that many readers will be drawn to. However, although Bronwyn is portrayed as a rebel and someone who has enjoyed a wild and reckless youth, this is occasionally overdone. In particular, one finds the frequent sexual references wearing and more than that, indicative of a mild lechery on the author's part towards his provocatively created protagonist. That aside, the novel works well as an introduction to the Tufa series, and Bledsoe's subtle blend of realism and fantasy makes the work accessible to a wide audience.

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I enjoyed this. Reality and fantasy blended together well, and the story was a subtle but enjoyable one.


Useful Links
Reviews of The Hum and the Shiver on Amazon (US)

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Interview: Alex Bledsoe
Alex Bledsoe is author of seven novels: The Eddie LaCrosse and Memphis Vampires series, and his latest title The Hum and the Shiver. Alex grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes ... [Read More]

14 comments:

TTORIA said...

Fab review!

I think i'm going to give it a go & add this to my -already over-flowing- wishlist...

Cheers

:-)

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Hey Ttoria - thanks for stopping by!

Haha, yeah I'd definitely give it a whirl. I can send you my copy if you'd like, or I can put you in touch with the book's publicist to see if they have anymore review copies.

From reading his interview responses, Alex seems like a nice chap - I'm sure he'd appreciate any extra publicity for his book!

TTORIA said...

Do you have a pdf copy? I'm definitely interested, i'll just have to find the time...lol

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

No, print. I don't normally get round to reading eBooks. I'm happy to put it in the post for you, or like I said, put you in touch with the publicist - I expect there is an e-version available. :)

TTORIA said...

No, no, you keep your copy. I'll pop back when i've reading space available and contact him...

Thank you :-D

Stephanie Lorée said...

Hi Matthew! Thanks for stopping by my blog to leave a comment on my own review of THE HUM & THE SHIVER. I'm glad you got a chance to read/review yourself.

New follower here. Have a fantastic day!

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Thanks for visiting - I really enjoyed your blog and will drop by and follow back when I'm done updating mine. :)

Playful Professional said...

Just reviewed this and enjoyed it as well. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews. http://booknookclub.blogspot.com/2011/11/hum-and-shiver-by-alex-bledsoe.html

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Thanks for the comment - I'll be sure to swing by and take a look at your review :)

Heather J. said...

I really enjoyed this book, though I think you make good points about its flaws. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more in the series!

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Thanks for the comment Heather - I think I might well try Alex's next Tufa offering. Have you read any of his other books?

Anonymous said...

Great post, I admire the writing style :) A little off topic here but what theme are you using? Looks pretty cool.

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Thanks very much.

I can't remember what the theme is called, but I got it from www.freepremiumbloggertemplates.com. I had to do quite a bit of tweaking, but you're right, nice theme isn't it?