Back in 2011, I tried a new book by Alex Bledsoe with a bit of trepidation — it clearly wasn’t the same kind of thing as his Eddie LaCrosse novels that I’m a big fan of, and what I’d read about the book as a whole seemed kind of vague. But I gave it a shot, and ended up reading one of the best books I’ve read this decade (no review on my part to link to here, I couldn’t come up with anything to say that seemed to rise to the level of the book). So when I saw that Bledsoe was releasing a sequel, I was excited and filled with a new sense of trepidation, tinged with dread. I just didn’t see how he could equal The Hum and the Shiver, much less top it.
And honestly, he didn’t. But he got close — so, so, close. A Herculean feat unto itself, so I count that as a win.
In this novel, we see what happens when real outsiders come into the land of the Tufa*. There’s the honeymooning couple — the husband who finds out a bit more about his heritage than he bargained for, and his wife who has other things on her mind than genealogical research. The central figure this time is the other outsider, Rob Quillen, a reality television star trying to recover from a very public, heartbreaking tragedy. So desperate for healing, he comes in search of a song that will erase his pain — as difficult as that is to believe, he has to take the chance.
Sadly for Rob, his search puts him in the middle of a struggle that goes back centuries — if not longer. He has to risk his life, his sanity, and that of others to find his song — and then just to survive.
The characters and conflicts that shaped The Hum . . . are still there, this is just a few months later, but they’re not quite as prominent while Rob and his new friends and foes settle their business.
There’s beauty here, determination, battling against (and trying to understand) fate and destiny. And ultimately, hope. Hope tainted with real loss and real pain, but hope and healing nonetheless.
Do yourself a favor and grab this one.
* Don’t know what a Tufa is? That’s fine. Go put down whatever you have in your hand, get a copy of The Hum and the Shiver. Go ahead, I’ll wait. It’s about music, and magic, and community, and place, and tradition, and family, and the magic of music . . . and it’s just good.