95 points/100 (5/5 stars!)
Alert: Gushing Incoming
Former wild child Bronwyn Hyatt is returning from Iraq a hero, a bit more broken than she was before she left. But, she doesn’t feel like a hero, she feels lost. Since she returned, death omens have been stalking her family, and with her hurt and broken, she has to heal quickly because she refuses to let it happen.
This. was. amazing! Oh my god, guys. How have I never read this before? Heck, I didn’t even hear about it until late last year! Someone really needed to tell me about this sooner. I’m actually angry no one told me this existed sooner.
It has been no secret that I love fae. Bledsoe has such an amazing take on them! At first, I wasn’t quite certain if they’re fae or something he made up entirely new for this series. It is left a bit ambiguous because of the way the story reveals itself. I absolutely love the way they are built. They are mysterious, even to themselves sometimes. Even by the of the book, we don’t even know anything close to everything about the Tufa.
Alex Bledsoe manages to take me back to a time right after 9/11, when the military and its soldiers were right in the public conscious and when they came home it was a big deal. I had to double check when it came out, because I thought it could have been 2005, not 2011. Even though they aren’t that distant in time, it still manages to catch the fervor of that time.
Bronwyn doesn’t feel like a hero, still. She likely never will. She still feels like the wild child she was. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t exactly remember the events they call her a hero for. She knows what happened, but she doesn’t remember. She is torn up inside because of everything, the expectations of others, and the fact she never really wanted to come back.
There are a lot of plots that are connected together in The Hum and the Shiver, though. The main plot is about Bronwyn as well as the death omens. Bronwyn finding out who she is again is a minor but vital part to this book. The death omen plot is scary and depressing. There is also the story of Don Swayback, who is finding his Tufa heritage. It is interesting, and it manages to give a way for Bledsoe to introduce the fae from a more outsider perspective, since Bronwyn already knows, and the third character that I’m about to mention can’t really know. The last is a newly appointed methodist minister, Craig Chess, who was sent to the area that try and convert the area. Craig is a great character, with a very strong sense of how he wants to present himself to the world with his calling. All of this unfolds piece by piece, layer by layer, to create a magical whole.
This is a blending of magic and music and religion. The book runs off magic and music. The magic is a mystery, we don’t know what it can do or how (yet). The music is a calling. Every Tufa hears the music, lives the music. It is beautiful, even if the music doesn’t call to me. The religion is new to the Tufa, and it isn’t really their way. Yet, it is a part of Craig, and he wants it to be a part of the Tufa. They aren’t derisive about it, it just isn’t a part of their traditions. It is an interesting blend of the three.
The ending made this. As much as I want more, it is because I always want more. I loved Bronwyn and Craig, I even liked Don by the end. Yet, it still ends at a great place. This isn’t a light, fun story. It is heavy and thrilling and just plain odd, and the end reflects that.
Audiobook Update: If you’re looking for a new audiobook with a great story and a wonderful set of narrators, this is it! The Hum and the Shiver features two narrators who do the job perfectly.