Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

Untitled 5.jpg Cherie Priest is up for a Hugo this year so I decided to read her first book.

She writes extremely well and concisely. The story starts out in Chattanooga and moves south through Atlanta and into the swamps of northern Florida. The writing actually made me a little bit homesick for the south – which is a feat in itself since the south is not a fun place to be most of the time. Her descriptions of the countryside, the cities, the interactions of the people and the complicated family trees (her cousin is also her brother) all felt extremely real to somebody who has lived in that part of the country.

The book is marketed as horror but I think it’s more of a ghost story than a horror novel. Certainly there were no make-you-jump moments and no horrifying scenes of blind panic. The main character keeps her head through the whole book, even in the face of dire threats to her life.

I think, however, that the major flaw is the coolness of the main character. She is constantly being attacked by her cousin/brother, who is bent on killing her, and she constantly insists that she really isn’t scared of him or even concerned that he might succeed. Her unconcern transfers to the reader and makes the story read more like a fireside ghost story than the intense family drama that it tries to be.

I enjoyed the book but it didn’t inspire me.


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