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Tufa series by Alex Bledsoe

Average rating: 95 points/100 (5/5 STARS!)
Currently complete with 6 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, magical realism

The Tufa are an old people. They’re as old as the mountains and they’ve been here almost as long. They have dark hair and they all look the same. They live quiet lives, and most don’t know much about them. But, there is one thing people do know, and that is that they love music. There origins may be lost, but their true nature is in the songs they have passed down through the generations.

RVs Chart 107

Reading Order: 

1. The Hum and the Shiver 5 STARS
2. Wisp of a Thing 5 STARS
3. Long Black Curl 5 STARS
4. Chapel of Ease 4 ½ stars
5. Gather Her Round 5 STARS
6. The Fairies of Sadieville 5 STARS

This is now one of my favourite series. It started with the first book, but by the time I got through the sixth book, I found that the series was pure magic. It was like someone condensed all the things I’ve been looking for in a series with fae into magic. It did things that I had only dreamed I could see prior to finally reading it.

Each book in this series is standalone and can be read at any time. However, I really recommend reading them in the order they were released. Sure, you get everything you need to out of each book individually. However, you miss the buildup and the slow, intoxicating reveal the series goes through. The story carries over, but few people do. Most of the people in this series only show up for a single book or two. Even the main of each book, the ones the book is actually about, don’t show up every book, and some not at all again.

It is basically no secret that I love stories with fae in them, as long as they are good, proper 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. We learn what they are and how they function slowly through the series, and each book builds a little more upon itself than the last. I really, really love these fae.

The Tufa series takes place in Needsville, Tennessee. It is a very small town, with a very small community that barely tolerates outsiders. Bledsoe is able to transport me to a small town and make me feel like I live there, even though I’ve never lived outside of a city that didn’t have less than 100,000 people in my life. The Tufa will accept outsiders, if they’re meant to accept them. I did find that, once they’ve accepted an outsider, they reveal their secrets to them pretty damn easily. The night winds know all, I suppose.

I really wish I were better at music. So much of the story is based in music. I just don’t understand it. I have to read it three times just to get the words through my head. It frustrates me, and it is my own fault. I feel like if I could just figure out the music, it would open up an entire new world for me in this series. The entire series interweaves music in at every step. The author even includes at the end of each book a list of all the songs that he incorporated into the book that he didn’t make up himself. It is amazing, I just really wish I could get it better.

Each book includes several plots that go on at the same time. No one book just has one thing going on in it. Most of the time, the plots that take place in the same book aren’t even connected together at the end. I thought it was magical, because every other time when I come across a book with three plots happening at the same time, at the end they all end up being the same plot. That isn’t what this series was about, though. This series was about a group of people, living the best way they know how and being true to themselves as much as they are able. The end was just the end of that story, but not the whole story.

The Hum and the Shiver is a great start to this series. It gives enough information about the Tufa you don’t feel left out, but still withholds some things.  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. Bronwyn doesn’t feel like a hero, still.She still feels like the wild child she was. It is a blending of magic and music and religion.

The biggest strength of Wisp of a Thing is that the main character for this, Rob, isn’t actually Tufa. He doesn’t have a single drop of the blood in him. That means we can see the Tufa and learn about them from a completely outside perspective. Rob does end up with some abilities to see their magic, and as a consequence, to see them. He’ll be forever changed by the experiences in this book. It is also about a really, really fucked up thing that happened to a young woman a long time ago where the problem either gets fixed or fucked forever.

Long Black Curl is the tale of a villain. I have never before seen the villain be the primary character in a book. It is also the first book in the series where I realised just how dark this series is. The Tufa let themselves get away with quite a lot. The list of crimes Bo-Kate commits prior to the start of the series is extensive and horrendous. And the Tufa just kept letting her and her accomplice get away with it until they went one step too far and got exiled, the first exiles ever.

Chapel of Ease was an odd shift from  third person following various citizens and guests of Cloud County to first person, and it starts in New York City. The whole book is first person, but eventually we end up in Cloud County. Typically, I prefer first person perspectives, and I’ve been told I’m weird because of this. Yet, in this series I actually preferred the third. It is about a musical that was written about an event that took place in Needsville and it has a mystery. This is the weakest book in the series as it goes over a lot of the same ground as the rest, but doesn’t have much new, either.

Gather Her Round is so intrinsically fae. I compare it to A Midsummer Night’s Dream if it was a tragedy with a bunch of horrible people in it. There is music and wild animals, death and love, destruction and heartbreak, and a bit of something that is pure magic. It is a story about a tragic event that had an even more tragic outcome, and two young women finding themselves.

The Fairies of Sadieville has an ending to a series that every author should aspire to have. It was a blending of the present, the past, and the really past. It is about a community that longs for home finding out that they may be able to go back, and wondering if they even will. That is, if they can go at all.

Check this out if:

  • you want a bunch of musical, secretive fae that are awesome
  • you’re looking for a series that you don’t necessarily need to read in order, or you want to pick and choose what you do want to read
  • you want to see a very young girl with the mantle of an entire people on her shoulders grow up into a young but capable leader

Don’t bother if:

  • you need characters from previous books in a series to keep showing up to remind you they exist
  • you’re looking for a bunch of characters that are good at heart
  • I can’t actually come up with many reasons to not like this, it is just pure awesome
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