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All Things Bright and Strange

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  471 ratings  ·  159 reviews
In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Thomas Nelson
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Wayong I’m wondering about this as well- I wasn’t raised Xtian (raised in a different religion) & have minimal knowledge of Christianity. Also, I don’t like …moreI’m wondering about this as well- I wasn’t raised Xtian (raised in a different religion) & have minimal knowledge of Christianity. Also, I don’t like being preached at or “witnessed”. If it’s preachy, I’m out. :-( (just not my thing)

However, I do read a lot fantasy, science fiction & historical fiction that has incorporated Judaism, Islamic culture, Shinto & various indigenous cultures & religions & have had no problems with those books (if anything, it brings context to characters’ intentions & world building.

FYI, Guy Gavriel Kay, Lavie Tidhar, Naomi Novak, Lev Grossman & Ilana Myer; Tahereh Mafi & S.A. Chakraborty, etc. (less)

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own

My Blog: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Paul Falk
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
James Markert serenaded me with the vernacular of country folk of the Deep South. Post World War 1. Enter the days of prohibition and bootlegging. Words danced off their lips with a Southern Charm that filled me with a longing for the times. The prose flowed across the pages like a gentle stream. It held me mesmerized. I was alive and kickin' in the quiet town of Bellhaven, South Carolina. Kindly pass the bowl of hoppin' John. Mighty glad to be there. From the outset, the characters were exquisi ...more
☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
I highly enjoyed this read! Not only is it based it South Carolina and I am a South Carolinian, it was very mysterious and sinister! I loved the way the characters interacted with each other and the overall characterisation. The only thing I wish was a tad different was it was slow in the beginning. I loved the mixed elements of this story as well. The mystery was highly enjoyable, making this book a suspenseful ride I am glad I didn’t miss out on!
Lily S.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It was honestly very difficult to give this book a 2.5star rating (rounded up to 3) because it started from a solid 5 yet somehow things went wrong along the way.

The premise is very intriguing; a mysterious chapel in the woods lures people in from the nearby town with making them able to hear the voices of their dead loved ones. Yet as people go more and more they start to change for the worse so we can suspect the working of some kind of evil.

There are a diverse set of characters in the novel,
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Ellsworth Newberry is the unofficial leader of a small, southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina. But having returned from war disabled, he just wants to hide in his house and forget the world. Then they find a mysterious chapel in the woods and evil 'comes in all forms'.

The story was all over the place, choppy and difficult to follow. I couldn't get a grasp on any of the characters.

2.5 ☆
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Um, definitely not what I was expecting from this book at all. All Things Bright and Strange feels like it has a thousand characters and about the same number of elaborated back-stories. That is why I feel this book was struggling to reach cohesion and well-rounded message. Is it a mystery? A thriller? A religious, mythical satire? I don't know and I really didn't care in the end. I didn't feel like there was any point to the story and don't get me started on the ending.

People of a little town,
James Markert
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I liked this book so much I read it about 10 times! But as the author, it was probably necessary! Holding true to form, I hurried to leave the first review. I hope everyone likes reading it as much as I liked writing it. And I thank everyone for the support! Cheers!
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, fantasy
I'm not going to try to knock out a synopsis of this book. There's a lot, and it's both complicated and very simple; there are holes in the plot, and predictability, but also genuine creepy horror elements and interesting characterization.

Note: If you're a Yankee like myself, it may help you in reading this book to know that Hoppin’ John is a dish made with black-eyed peas, smoked ham, and rice. Sounds good. Now that you know the details, you might end up very very hungry by the end of the stor
Vikki P
I received an e-ARC of All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

With a stunning plot and a really ethereal feel to the writing, All Things Bright and Strange really aces it in the writing aspect. The first thing that struck me as interesting about the book was that it really made me understand the effect of war on people, as it is set in a time of wars. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a monster who doesn’t know how horrifi
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it

"It was as good a day to die as any."

Ellsworth Newberry has lost his desire to live; he lost one of his legs in the war, he lost his beautiful wife in a town tragedy before he enlisted, and now he is contemplating losing his soul with the simple click of a trigger. But it wasn't meant to be.

Strange things are happening in the small town of Bellhaven, South Carolina and they all revolve around a chapel; a chapel deep within woods rumored to be haunted; yet trips to the chapel appear to bring
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: February 28th 2018

"The beauty of the Bellhaven woods was like a desert mirage - an optical phenomenon inviting trouble, an illusion of light rays that disguised the truth."

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ***

(view spoiler)
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A mysterious chapel in the woods draws townsfolk to it. Legend says the church has a healing floor, but the truth is the more time you spend on it, the older you get. Ellsworth, the protagonist is both enthralled by the chapel and decided to get to the bottom of the mysteries that surround it.
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Published 30 Jan 2018, archived 1 March 2018. Thomas Nelson.
[[ Frankie ]]
This was really close to being a 5. I may end up bumping it up!
Sara Wise
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
** “How can we fight what we can’t see?” **

Wow, just wow! That’s what I have to say about the brilliantly amazing “All Things Bright and Strange” by James Markert. Taking place mostly in 1920, Markert’s latest novel is part historical fiction, part Southern fiction, and part supernatural and paranormal storytelling at its best.

Strange things are happening in the small South Carolina town of Bellhaven. Everything, and I mean everything, is blooming at once. And the birds? They’re everywhere — esp
Louise Marley
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book because I liked the look of the cover, I thought the title was clever and the story sounded a little bit different.

All Things Bright and Strange opens in 1917. Despite the differences in race and religion, the people of Bellhaven have always got along with each other. But then a group of men wearing white robes and carrying flaming torches track a young black boy, Raphael, to the town and set fire to the town hall. Several people are killed, including Eliza Newberry, the wife o
Lolly K Dandeneau
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
via my blog:
“This town is different. You’ll be welcomed here.”

Black and white alike, side by side, dancing together- can it be? Can Bellhaven truly be real? Ellsworth is prepared to die, ravaged by the war, broken by the loss of his wife, why shouldn’t he end things with his Smith & Wesson? Anne Belle Roper won’t let him, it seems, bringing him breakfast and the care he needs. Ellsworth is too young to feel and look so old. He will never be a professional b
Susan Snodgrass
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
"It was as good a day to die as any. But first Ellsworth Newberry would have his morning cup of joe."

Bellhaven, South Carolina. 1920. Ellsworth Newberry lost a leg in World War I, but that wasn't all he lost. He has lost his will to live. His wife is dead, as is their stillborn infant and he just sees no valid reason to live. But somehow he always stops before eating a bullet.

Ellsworth realizes slowly that things are changing in his small hometown of Bellhaven, SC. For as long as he can remembe
Debra Slonek
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is about a simmering, supernatural battle of good versus evil. Tolerance and a sense of community fueled the good, while intolerance and a growing suspicion of others fueled the evil.

Seeds of evil had been sown many years prior, in a small chapel, deep in the woods. All of the hurting and broken people became easy hosts to the growing evil presence in the woods. The evil that lived in the woods disguised itself with deceitful beauty. The townspeople became addicted to visiting the old,
Honestly, it was incredibly weird and strange so that part of the title fit. Not sure what to say about this one. If you like Billy Coffey or William might enjoy this read. It never takes me this long to finish. Started well.....

Received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Kayla Garcia
❝But how can something so bright and beautiful be strange?❞

All Things Bright and Strange depicts the effects of post war grief, loss, the beauty of a community coming together, and opening your heart to new beginnings.

Things I would have kept the same: Townsfolk living in the south coupled with the 1920s time period made this a charming read. The writing was descriptive and the characters were quirky. I enjoy books that incorporate elements of magical realism and this one surely does that!

3 1/2 stars- The jury is still out on my final thoughts of this book. I loved Frank Perretti’s books but otherwise have not read a lot of supernatural stories such as this. I loved the setting in 1920. WWI had recently ended and life was still returning to a form of normalcy for many vets and their families in the US. The author does such an amazing job of transporting you to the story’s time period. It is so fun to read the dialogue and the unique phrases and sayings from back then. He clearly ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the beautiful story telling in this historical fiction combined with the supernatural.

We meet the citizens of Bellhaven, several of whom have returned to America from world war one with physical and psychological scars and injuries. The seemingly idyllic town has a hidden and troubling mystery lying in the depth of the woods.

The characters were quirky and varied, I found myself egging on Ellsworth as the story builds. As much as I enjoyed the story, I did find t
Betsy deGolian
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot, but only rarely do I finish a book and need to take time to savor it before moving onto my next read. Finishing this book was one of those times. I’m not into fantasy or gothic fiction, but All Things Bright and Strange has so much to offer that it’s hard not to love. The characters deal with grief, PTSD in the wake of World War I, race relations, loves lost and found, religion, and the ultimate battle between good and evil. With so much going on, this book could have easily become ...more
Rebekah Gyger
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I went into this story not really knowing what to think about it. I knew from reading Markert's last novel with Thomas Nelson that this was likely to be some sort of analogy, one that was slightly weird and magical. Even the title confirmed the "strangeness" which would show up even within the first few pages in the form of odd characters and unnatural phenomena.

But even with all that was strange about Bellhaven, the first part of the novel began slow, taking awhile to situate the reader in Ells
Angela Bycroft
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back last year I had to opportunity to review Angel’s Share which was a very different story and not 100% to my tastes if I’m honest.

So it was with some trepidation that I started another book by the same author. I can gladly say the All Things Bright and Strange was a better storyline which engaged a lot more than the former novel.

This tale focus on an usual chapel located in the woods along side a small town where some pretty odd things have occurred. Ellsworth Newberry is living the life of
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 3-stars
An interesting stab at mixing the supernatural with a religious foundation, All Things Bright and Strange is a little uneven but still enjoyable.

I do find that the label of 'Christian Fiction' is a little misleading (and based on some reviews on Amazon, I see that other people feel the same way) because that label generally applies to the types of books where someone is grappling with some internal conflict and, through their Christian beliefs, they find their way.

However, I find myself unable
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This was alright. The story was pretty interesting, as were the characters. I found that the twist about halfway through was very surprising, although I really should have seen it coming because looking back it was obvious.

There is nothing that I found wrong or frustrating about this book. The reason I am giving it 3 stars is because it just wasn't really a book for me. Had I known more about it before reading it, I probably would not have picked it up because it's just not my thing.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Started out strong and ...went on too long.
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James Markert is a novelist, screenwriter, producer, and USPTA tennis pro from Louisville, Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which later became A White Wind Blew. He is the writer and co-producer of the new feature film and tennis comedy, 2nd Serve, starring Josh Hopkins fro ...more

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