Just about 7 years ago I picked up a book called The Hum and The Shiver. If you use the word “haint” in your blurb and cover art showing the mountains of Appalachia, you have me. This book introduced me to the Tufa Novels by Alex Bledsoe. Over the next seven years he would write six novels, the latest, The Fairies of Sadieville, being the final one.
I reluctantly started it, knowing that once I read the first line I would be on my way to the finale. This book promised to reveal the secrets behind the Tufa people. Living secluded, in the mountains of Tennessee, in Needsville, hidden away in Cloud County. Music, spirituality, and kinship, a vital part of their lives. There were hints and glimpses in the previous books as to where their ancient beginnings lay, and from the title of the latest book, it is easy to see where it has progressed.
One of the aspects I loved about this series was the slowly seeping in of the outside world and how these mysterious people handled it. One character was an Iraq war vet, at times they would find the need to travel to the outside world, once to the hustle and bustle of New York’s theatre district, in what would be my favorite of the series, Chapel of Ease. In The Fairies of Sadieville, we find two graduate students from beyond the confines of Cloud County, who will be the catalyst in a final decision for each individual member of the Tufa tribe, and in revealing the truth of their beginnings. The irony that outsiders would bring about these revelations was perfectly suited to this series theme.
I am an urban fantasy junkie. In my opinion, one of the most enigmatic characters in this genre today is Mandalay Harris, a character in Bledsoe’s novels, a leader of one tribe of the Tufa. A 15 year old who holds all the wisdom and knowledge of her ancestors, the women who led before her, in the body of a teenager with all the insecurities, questions, and desires being a teen entails. The change from the profound (and sometimes scary) wise-woman to Mandalay the not quite grown-up girl is brilliantly written.
I’m not going to reveal any spoilers for those who haven’t read. I can only say, as a faithful reader of this series, I was not disappointed in this final book. Alex Bledsoe is the seanchaidh of the Tufa, the teller of their tale. He has woven together their magic and their music through six movements of this brilliant literary symphony.
I highly recommend this entire series. Anyone who begins it now, know that I am jealous, knowing what you are going to find as a first-time visitor to Cloud County.
Hard to believe it was around 7 years ago I picked up a copy of The Hum and The Shiver. Miss Mandalay was right, as she usually is, “time doesn’t work the same for everyone…”