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review 2018-05-16 02:49
I hate to say good-bye to the Tufa, but this is the way to do it.
The Fairies of Sadieville - Alex Bledsoe

For many years [the Tufa] were on the wrong side of the South’s color line, and suffered for it. Their secretive ways and legendary musical aptitude spawned rumor and legend, which in turn prompted more and more withdrawal.

 

But now the twenty-first century, with its pervasive interconnectedness, pushed against this isolation. More and more Tufa risked the consequences of leaving and sought their way in the world. They all knew they would someday have to come back, since all Tufa were inextricably tied to Needsville. But they also knew that the seclusion of the past was no longer practical. Like it or not, the world now knocked on their door. 

 

Such a depressing thought, but a pretty good summary of the State of the Tufa.

 

I still remember some of the reactions I had back in 2011 during my first read of The Hum and the Shiver and met the Tufa. There was something otherworldly, ethereal and haunting -- and yet, very human, and even fun. It was, in short, magic. I thought the same when I re-read it before the sequel, and maybe it impressed me more that time. Each book since has felt the same -- not all have them as successful as the first, but they've all had that same core magic.

 

When it was announced a couple of months ago that this was going to be the final novel in the series I was struck by two thoughts -- the first, and strongest, was lament. The second was, "how?" There's not an overarching narrative that needs tieing up, a goal to meet or anything. Partway through this book, I started to understand how Bledsoe was wrapping things up and concluding the series -- and it felt perfect. I should add at this point that I was wrong about what he was doing, and that the reality was better than my guess.

 

As it's the final book, all bets are off -- the first novel contained many hints about the nature of the Tufa, but the successive books were less and less subtle in that regard, and ended up telling more than the previous. At this point, there's no hinting, no suggesting -- not only that, Bledsoe answers many questions readers have had since the beginning, and probably a few we should've had. And he does so in a way that enriches the series and the Tufa, not just something that reveals. There were so many little tidbits that came out that just made me smile or utter a quiet "Ah ha!"

 

I actually haven't talked much about the plot yet -- how odd. There are a couple of graduate students from a university in Tennessee -- one in psychology (would be parapsychology if she could get away with it) and one in English with a focus in folk music as a way to improve his own music (minor spoiler: I spent a few pages waiting for him to be revealed to be a Tufa -- nope, just a kindred spirit). These two have come across an old film -- silent film old -- shot near Needsville, showing a young woman losing her glamour and flying off on wings. There's no way that it could be silent film quality FX, it's a woman with wings. This town it was filmed in, Sadiesville, disappeared shortly afterwards. The two want to find this town and explore what happened to it.

 

Which brings them into contact with the people of Needsville -- and the night winds have instructed them to help these two find what they're looking for, despite the fact that no one in Needsville has a clue about the town. For readers, the idea that Tufa have forgotten anything that happened in their area is pretty astounding the kind of thing that piques your curiosity.

 

What happens next is wonderful, and horrible, and beautiful -- awful in every sense, archaic and otherwise. I loved it and hated it while admiring how Bledsoe played this out. Structurally, tonally, thematically different from the rest (as each book in this series has been), yet undeniably part of the series. I loved seeing friends who've been around since The Hum and the Shiver or those as fresh as Gather Her Round just one last time (not that the new characters are slouches. For example, Veronica, our aspiring parapsychologist, is someone I'd hope to see if there was going to be a book 7).

 

There are a million little touches here -- none of which I can talk about without ruining something, that make this good-bye the best installment of this series since The Hum and the Shiver. This is a must for Tufa fans (not that they need me to say it), and one more chance for me to suggest that people who haven't started the series yet get on it. I don't believe in actual magic -- but Bledsoe's series make me want to, especially if it looked like this. I hate to say good-bye to this series, but this is the way to do it.

 

Bravo.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/15/the-fairies-of-sadieville-by-alex-bledsoe-i-hate-to-say-good-bye-to-the-tufa-but-this-is-the-way-to-do-it
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review 2018-04-18 01:06
Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe - My Thoughts
Wisp of a Thing: A Novel of the Tufa - Alex Bledsoe

I really enjoy Alex Bledsoe's voice.  His writing is easy yet rich and full.  Perfect for the subject matter of North America's fairy population. It's not an urban fantasy, it's more a contemporary, rural fantasy, I think.  Set in the Appalachian mountains and peopled with a whole bunch of unique characters, it's the place where Rob Quillan, a musician haunted by tragedy, comes in search of a song to heal him. 

Now there may be other books out there about the other-worldly creatures in this part of North America, but I can't really recall any.  As it is Bledsoe walks the perfect line of keeping the story sounding ... um, not of the city .... yet not sounding like the Clampetts.  His characters are characters, not caricatures and some you love, some you hate and some you just... know.  It's a homey book, but with an edge.  :)

And the fairy-folk themselves.  They're not the grand lord and lady types, not the ethereal little nymphs, not the austere folk we see portrayed so often.  They're good, they're bad, they're dark, they're light and they're not quite like anything I've read about before.

I think if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you'll enjoy this series. 

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review 2017-06-22 02:50
The latest Tufa novel is another winner.
Gather Her Round: A Novel of the Tufa (Tufa Novels) - Alex Bledsoe

Man, it's hard to write much that doesn't boil down to: It's the new Tufa book by Bledsoe -- it's great, go read it. Which is essentially a tautology followed by a natural conclusion. And isn't that interesting (then again, I never promised you interesting, Dear Reader).

 

So, what sets this one apart? Well, there's the pretty mundane nature of the inciting incident (mundane meaning not magical, not mundane meaning ordinary), the framing device, and the . . . I don't want to say resolution (because there are a few -- and yet none), I guess the way things end.

 

The framing device is perfect for a Tufa novel -- Janet Harper, a noted musician and actress is at a story-telling festival and brings her guitar onstage to use with her story -- one that's true, but that no one in the audience will believe, as much as she says it. She does change the names of the participants (which makes her different than Ray Parrish) to protect everyone involved -- including herself (see Ray Parrish).

 

Janet tells the story of Kera Rogers, who goes for a walk one morning to go play a little music, relax a bit, sext a little with a couple of guys, think a little about cutting out one or both of the guys when she's attacked by a wild animal and is never seen again. At least not most of her -- a small body part or two shows up. The community is horrified that this happens and her parents grieve the end of her young life. Duncan Gowan is one of the boys she was involved with -- and thought he was the only one -- is wrecked by her death and learning that she was also sleeping with someone else.

 

The rest of the tale traces the ripples from this event over the next few months (almost a year) -- and the next victim to fall prey to the animal -- Kera's family moving on, Duncan getting involved with another woman, the hunters that come in to track the beast (which will also hopefully prevent any police investigation). One of the hunters gets involved with a Tufa we've known since the first book, and is introduced to the real culture of Needsville.

 

While all this is going on, we get the best picture of how things are going with the faction formerly led by Rockhouse Hicks, now led by Junior Damo, and it's clear to everyone that Junior is not the new Rockhouse -- which is mostly good, but there are some real drawbacks. Mandalay Harris takes it upon herself -- even though the dead are Junior's -- to get to the bottom of what happened. Sure, it was a wild animal attack -- but is that all it was? Her methods aren't exactly anything you'll find in a police procedural, but produce results that Gil Grissom and his kind would envy.

 

The best parts of these books is the way that people like Junior, Mandalay, Bliss, and Bronwyn are secondary characters; while people we've never met (or just barely) like Kera, Duncan, Janet, and Jack Cates (the hunter) are the focus. Yet somehow, we care about them almost as much -- and through the eyes and experiences of the new characters we learn more about our old friends and see them grow and develop. Bledsoe is fantastic at making each of these books very different from the rest, yet clearly part of a series.

 

Like every novel in this series -- this can be your introduction to the world. Actually, this one may be a better intro-book than any but the first (even as I write that I can think of arguments against it, but I think I can stick with it). You don't have to have any advance knowledge of this world to appreciate 98% of the book.

 

There's heart, magic, fun, wonder, vengeance, a dash of romance and mystery wrapped up in this novel -- expressed through very human characters. The humanity shown by these people who aren't all that human shines through more than anything else.


<img class="aligncenter" src="http://angelsguiltypleasures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/2017LibraryLoveChallenge05-400x400-angelsgp.png" alt="2017 Library Love Challenge" style="border:none;height:auto;width:200px;">

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/06/21/gather-her-round-by-alex-bledsoe
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review 2017-02-06 21:58
The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe - My Thoughts
The Hum and the Shiver (Tufa #1) - Alex Bledsoe

Novels of the Tufa - Book 1

 

This book was a guts buy for me when it was on sale a few weeks ago.  I picked it and books 2 and 3 up at the same time just because the blurbs sounded good!  And different.

We're basically talking musical fae folk in the Appalachian mountains.

The Tuatha Dé Dannan of Irish-Celtic mythology disappeared way back when, according to folklore, and in these tales, they have disappeared to Appalachian America.  Tennesee.  Cloud Country.  And are now called the Tufa.  :)  I love it!  This is a take I've not read before and it instantly caught my attention.

So, when The Hum and the Shiver turned out to be a really enjoyable read, I was right pleased!

It tells the tale of one of the First Daughters of one of the two Tufa clans (basically the seelie and unseelie folk) returning home a war hero after a horrific attack and imprisonment overseas.  Will she claim her birthright and heal herself in mind and body or will she turn her back on the responsibilities it entails.  And what about some of the other characters - what choices will they make?  Accept what they are and embrace it, or not.

Now, I'm not certain if the characters we meet in this book continue their stories in the others, but I think maybe, even if they aren't the main characters of the subsequent books.  Doesn't matter.  I love the premise, I really enjoy Bledsoe's voice and his writing is gorgeous and easy to read, so yep, I will be reading them!   Oh, and if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you will definitely like these, IMO.

I do wonder though... what happened to Fred Blasco???????

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review 2016-11-24 01:33
Grief, Love and Mystery in TN with the Tufa
Chapel of Ease: A Novel of the Tufa (Tufa Novels) - Alex Bledsoe
"Sometimes the best mysteries are never solved, because the mystery is too important to lose. This is the story about one of those mysteries. Most of it's true, and the parts that ain't, well, they still sound true."


It's time to return to Needsville, TN, the home of the Tufa for the latest installment in one of the best ongoing Fantasy around. One of the best things about this series is how every book is completely different from its predecessors, but they all clearly belong to the same series.

 

After a quick tease, we enter the story in New York City where an up-and-coming musical writer/composer and a well-established director are casting for an off-Broadway musical (the opening line of which was quoted above). There's something about the story and songs penned by Ray Parrish that draws everyone who reads and/or hears them in as surely as moths to a flame. One such person was Matt Johanssen, who becomes friends with Ray as well as one of the more dedicated cast members.

 

The twist in this tale comes from the source of Ray's material -- old (and not-so-old) Tufa stories and music. As anyone who knows these people realizes, people back home are not going to look kindly on this. There are a couple of people on the fringes of Ray's world that make it clear that the Tufa want something out of Ray -- ideally, a cessation of any musical or play or anything ending up in public. Ray will not be dissuaded, this is the story he wants to tell -- whether people in Needsville want him to or not.

 

Just before the much-talked about play opens, Ray dies in his sleep and it falls upon Matt to bring his ashes home to his family. While there, he has the opportunity to look into the places and people this play is based on -- and maybe get an idea what the central mystery of the play is about. Ray'd played his cards close to the chest on this topic and without him around to tell the cast, someone has to do some first-hand research. So, while mourning his friend and getting to know his family, Matt finds himself on the verge of instigating a feud while doing his research.

 

Now, it's not unusual for a Tufa novel to feature an outsider's first encounter with the Tufa. But this time, the book is just about that -- there's so little action outside of this story that it really doesn't merit attention (at least not now). In these pages we have a first person narrator as the person encountering the culture. This gives everything an immediacy, an intimacy that we don't normally get to these. Also, the narrow concentration keeps the reader focused on what's going on with the Parrishes and Matt, without worrying about the Tufa politics, shifting power, and so on (it's there, and there are changes in town, but that's not what the novel is about).

 

In many ways, it's not a novel about the Tufa -- it just happens that they're around, it's a novel about Matt and Ray. But once you throw the Tufa in, you end up with something that's not your typical story about a dancer/actor from NYC returning his friends' ashes to the Appalachian town he grew up in.

 

I thought Matt was great -- as was his dawning realization that he wasn't in the world he knew anymore, and how he reacted to that realization. The way he stepped into parts of the culture he was exposed to was well handled, second only to the way he went about fighting against or struggling with the rest.

 

You do get to see your favorite recurring characters and they make references to events in the other novels, so readers of the series do get to check in on things other than the Parrishes -- please don't misunderstand. The novel's focus isn't on that, however.

 

If you even glance at the cover blurb, you know that someone has to die so that there's an urn for Matt to bring to Cloud County, but Ray's inevitable death was a doozy -- and the memorial service held for him was one of the more moving things I've read this year (the impromptu memorial in New York held by friends/cast, that is -- the wake the Tufa held was a different kind of experience). Making you care about a guy you know is going to die before you open the book and meet him that much takes a special kind of writer -- and that's what Alex Bledsoe is. Naturally, that doesn't just apply to Ray; it works for Matt, the Parrishes, C. C. and several others who actually survive the book (and one that doesn't).

 

I feel like I'm in danger of becoming the Chris Farley talk show host character here, "Remember that part in the book where Matt does ____? That was cool." I really don't know what to say about this book -- or the others in the series -- that I haven't before. It's a great setting, with a culture and people you want to see again and again, for both understanding and entertainment. Plus the overwhelming desire to actually hear the music they keep talking about. This is Bledsoe at the top of his game, you should be sure not to miss it.

 

And, like the play itself -- it all sounds true.

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