Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

By Cherie Priest. The first Eden Moore book.

The first page grabbed me with its vividness and the small child narrating. A couple pages later, we suspect the narrator is currently somewhat older, but no idea by how much. The author develops a strong Southern atmosphere with ghosts and complicated family relationships. There's a lot of grit and smells and great descriptions of setting.

This is a ghost story, but a strange one: Eden, our narrator, has grown up with the ghosts of three women, one of whom claims to be her mother. However, they aren't threatening at all (though some of the other beings she encounters are). The real threat in this book is the living.

Early on, Eden implies that reincarnation is involved, mentioning memories of a past life. This is probably what bothered me the most about this book. Although there was a good amount of tension and danger, I didn't find this book exceptionally frightening; Eden is quite capable of taking care of herself physically, and I didn't find the supernatural threats very believable.

In the end, I think I liked this book more because of the strong atmosphere and characters than due to the strength of the plot. The mysteries surrounding Eden's life are a definite page-turning factor, especially since no one will tell her anything, but several of the conflicts seem to have only a weak basis, and despite the significant amount of tension I didn't find this to be a very frightening story. (I find grotesque horror undesirable in books; although horrible things do happen in this one, the story doesn't dwell on them in great detail either.)

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