Jordan Price's Reviews > The Hum and the Shiver

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
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Jun 17, 2011

Read in June, 2011

I was lucky enough to score an advance copy of this novel, and once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down until it was finished…and even now, I can’t stop thinking about it.

The blend of magic and the mundane is something I try to achieve in my own work, since I think the more real the mundane details feel, the more the magic can shine. This book feels so authentic I never question that I am right there in the story.

Bronwyn Hyatt is a war hero returning from Iraq to her home in East Tennessee to recuperate from her injuries. Everything about her is complicated—her personality, her relationship to her parents, her relationship to her ex, and to her own past. I’m enthralled by Bronwyn. I feel like she’s real. She’s tough in a way that most female protagonists pretend to be tough, but she doesn’t come off as a male protagonist with a name-change who needs to overcompensate for her gender. She owns her sexuality. Yet she’s vulnerable, not sexually, but in the places where her brain injuries have left her with gaps where her music once lived. And that seems like a more intimate vulnerability for her. Music is critical to Bronwyn and her people, and of everything that had been stripped from her when she’d been taken by enemy forces, the loss of her songs is the greatest tragedy.

Things I particularly loved were the dialog, which lilted and flowed and conveyed a great sense of place, and several wonderfully placed details, such as Aunt Raby’s upstairs walker. The writing is not wordy by any means, and the skillful placement of just the perfect detail anchors the story without bogging it down with lines and lines of description.

How does Bronwyn fit—in her family, in her community, in her music, and in her own skin? All the while she figures that out, signs and omens augur tragedy for her family, her people try to force her to commit to a marriage she doesn’t want, and two delightfully horrible bad guys converge to drag everyone into the darkness of their own personal inadequacies externalized.
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02/06 marked as: read

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