Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Southern Ghost Story

Four and Twenty Blackbirds, by Cherie Priest

Book Description:

"Although she was orphaned at birth, Eden Moore is never alone. Three dead women watch from the shadows, bound to protect her from harm. But in the woods a gunman waits, convinced that Eden is destined to follow her wicked great-grandfather--an African magician with the power to curse the living and raise the dead.

Now Eden must decipher the secret of the ghostly trio before a new enemy more dangerous than the fanatical assassin destroys what is left of her family. She will sift through lies in a Georgian ante-bellum mansion and climb through the haunted ruins of a 19th century hospital, desperately seeking the truth that will save her beloved aunt from the curse that threatens her life."


Angie's Review:

I wanted to read Cherie Priest's first novel, because I am also reading her Clockwork Century books, which are full of steampunk and zombies and alternative history goodness. Love them. So, when I saw that she began her career with a ghost story series, focused on a girl named Eden Moore, who sees spirits and has a family history of psychic abilities and voodoo-magic, I thought I should check that out too.

There were a lot of things happening in this novel that I loved. First of all, I lived in the South for a while, and I'm familiar with many of the locations in the book, and she did a great job of incorporating those very real places into the work. It felt like I was on a road trip, but this time I was seeing cities I had known in a different, more spine-tingling situation.
Secondly, the mystery of Eden's past really drew me in and made me want to keep reading. There were so many questions to be resolved. Who were the ghosts following Eden? Who was her real father? What really happened to her mother? But on top of that, she introduced the idea that not only did Eden need to discover the facts about her immediate family, but because of the efforts of some of her ancestors to gain immortality, Eden also needs to find out who she is. There is a possibility that she may be the reincarnation of one of her most sinister ancestors. Certainly, some of her other relations believe so, and one of them, Malachi, is so convinced that he is willing to murder Eden before she can blossom into a full-fledged sorceress.

The two things I didn't like about the story were: One, that there were a lot of family relationships. It was hard to keep them straight in my head. There were times when I couldn't remember who was who. I had to flip back and re-read a few sections just so I could keep track of it all. It was a bit overwhelming, I thought. Maybe they could have put a family tree diagram in there somewhere. It might have helped. Two, although this was very suspenseful, it was not scary. I wanted to be spooked more and I felt like what with all the ghosts running around, I should have been, but it just wasn't there. This is probably because Eden is so used to seeing them, that she is not frightened, and so neither am I while I'm reading it.

In any case, I still really like this book, and I think it's well worth the read. I think it was a pretty good first book for Priest, and she only got better with time. If you are a steampunk or zombie fan, you should definitely also check out her Clockwork Century novels. You won't be sorry.

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/389099.Four_and_Twenty_Blackbirds
Author's Website: http://www.cheriepriest.com/

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