I am super picky about the YA I read. I admit that freely. I like my books complex and chewy, and to contain problems beyond teen angst for the protag...moreI am super picky about the YA I read. I admit that freely. I like my books complex and chewy, and to contain problems beyond teen angst for the protags to overcome. I'm way beyond teen angst and puppy love.
And I really really liked BLACKWOOD because there was substance here, history and enough weird stuff going on to cause me to want to race to the end to see what was really happening. The protags were teenagers, yes, but they weren't...kids. They had real issues, real problems to solve, and real adult level sorrows to cope with.
Gwenda Bond handled all of the plot threads deftly and her writing is first rate. I'd recommend this book to anyone. If I'd had a paper copy of this novel, I'd have torn through it in far less time than it took to read the ebook.
But I bought the ebook and experienced technical issues with the formatting that I haven't had with other ebooks. NONE of this is the author's fault. All in all I just wish I'd had a print edition instead.
If you like history, spooky big bads and a cool story, you'll love BLACKWOOD. I did.
Really 4 3/4 stars. Really close to five, but I rate very few books a five.
Full disclosure. The author of this book is my significant other. We live t...moreReally 4 3/4 stars. Really close to five, but I rate very few books a five.
Full disclosure. The author of this book is my significant other. We live together and I was a beta reader for this book. After he parted ways with his agent, Marshall decided to go it alone. He isn't the first author to make that choice, including some good friends of mine. I predict he won't be the last.
Having said all that, this had to be a damn good book for me to write a public review.
Jaime Jimenez, aka Jimmy-Don Autry, is a 20 something singer, songwriter and guitar player with stars in his eyes and visions of making the big time. He heads off to Nashville, certain that fame and fortune await him on music row. He buys a pair of fancy cowboy boots, said to bring good luck to aspiring singing cowboys, and begins making the rounds.
Life doesn't go according to plan. Nashville is less than wowed by Jimmy-Don, who tells fanciful stories about being the unclaimed love child of singing cowboy Gene Autry. He ends up pawning his guitar for gas money to get home to the Texas Hill Country town of Kerrville.
Down but not out, Jimmy-Don, stays with his mother, Gloria, and begins trying to get his band back together. Suddenly every magic user and supernatural criminal in South Central Texas starts to come after Jimmy-Don, and he finds himself under the protection of a shapeshifting government agent named Destina Garza.
The Texas Hill Country as portrayed in this book is a land populated by brownies with split personalities, dryads in the backyard, witches who hang out in the local bar, supernatural creatures from Southwestern legends, and a community of kobolds who live down the road in the town of Fredricksberg. This is a fun book, with some interesting twists on what have become standard urban fantasy tropes.
And Jimmy-Don is probably the most unlikely hero ever. He wants nothing to do with magic or power, or uptight feds like Destina, all he wants to do is make music. Even so, he rises to the occasion to save the day--and his mom. And if he grows up a bit along the way, well, that will make his mother happy.