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Redwood and Wildfire

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
At the turn of the 20th century, minstrel shows transform into vaudeville which slides into moving pictures. Hunkering together in dark theatres, diverse audiences marvel at flickering images. This “dreaming in public” becomes common culture and part of what transforms immigrants and “native” born into Americans. Redwood, an African American woman, and Aidan, a Seminole Ir ...more
Paperback, First, 448 pages
Published April 2011 by Aqueduct Press (first published February 1st 2011)
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Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Currently reading....
Imagine if Zora Neale Hurston wrote a fantasy novel....
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been listening to the Carolina Chocolate Drops for the past few months now. I've always been a fan of bluegrass, but when I learned that blacks also did old timey music, that it was the precursor to the blues, it was like discovering a history I never knew of myself. Reading Redwood and Wildfire was also like that.

Having lived in Chicago most of my life, I never understood what my ancestors went through when they migrated from the south. I married a white man by choice; I have white friends
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I finished Hairston's harrowing and beautiful Redwood and Wildfire about a week ago, and I've been struggling to write about it in a way that does it justice. But it's today that I learned about the acquittal of one George Zimmerman in the murder trial of one Trayvon Martin, and that -- and what it says about how far we haven't come, or how far we've backslid -- makes a tangled ball of anger in my gut and an urgency to say something now.

Racial tension is one of the central defining elements of R
K. Lincoln
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first cracked open Redwood and Wildfire. I was ill prepared for this densely woven, free-spirited kind of writing mixing a horrific lynching, a girl who can catch a hurricane in her hand, stories from an irish/seminole drunkard's life, cooning in Chicago vaudeville, and the kindness of a country doctor lending poetry books to white trash and coloreds in rural Georgia.

Running through the prose is the pulsing, visceral awareness of body; skin, co
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, sff
I'm not done living these people. I would dearly love a sequel.
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wiscon, reviewed
I keep trying to type up this review and then stalling in the middle and rebooting my browser and losing it. I think it is a sign that I should not try to say so much about the book.

This is a sprawling novel following two characters from rural Georgia, across time and distance to their reunion in bustling Chicago of the 'teens. Redwood/Sequoia is a singer, a dreamer, a magic-worker. Adrian Wildfire is a man haunted by bad memories and demon rum. The most important thing is that he truly believes
Samantha (AK)
Initial thoughts:
Redwood and Wildfire is different than Hairston's first novel, Mindscape, but still manages to retain some of what intrigued me in that book. It's more grounded than her debut, but still draws from fantastic elements. One could almost imagine that Redwood and others like her might be the ancestors of the griots of Mindscape, if one had the inclination. This book stands at the intersection of history and fantasy, bound together by a love story that avoids falling into the trap of
Susie Munro
Sprawling, at times horrific and completely captivating novel brimful of magic, Redwood and Wildfire is the story of two people struggling to live their truth in a world brimming violent and subtle oppression. Hugely relatable despite being almost entirely outside my (white, Australian) frame of reference, I loved pretty much everything about it.

**wanders off to buy everything Ms. Hairston has ever written**
Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell
Redwood and Aiden Wildfire are forced to leave their lives in Peach Grove, Georgia because of mounting racial tensions and the aftermath of sexual violence. In doing so, both have to conquer what haunts them and find their own path to healing before they can fully accept their love for each other and begin a future together.

But what appeared at first to be only a love story laced with history and magical realism now seems to be much more than that. Hairston's story, in my view, asks us to consid
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great story, but a little hard to follow at times because there is so much going on in every scene.
Miz Lizzie
The 2012 Tiptree Award winner deals with gender-issues subtly and race-relations a little more directly, but at its heart is a story of two people creating the magic necessary to make their dreams come true. In the early years of the twentieth century, Redwood Phipps is an African American girl with the same hoodoo gifts as her mother who meets a violent death when lynched while trying to protect the colored section of Peach Grove, Georgia with magic. Aidan Wildfire is a Seminole and Irish Ameri ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Redwood Phipps is a hoodoo, daughter of one of the most powerful conjure women Peach Grove has even seen. After Garnett is lynched - for the crime of killing the white man that raped her - Redwood's power grows. Aiden Wildfire, known around town as Crazy Coop, has conjure magic of his own. Child of a Seminole man and an Irish woman, it is Aiden who cuts Garnett's body down and befriends young Redwood. Fast forward to history repeating itself; Redwood kills the white man who rapes her and flees t ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it did a lot of things right. I loved the celebration of black and American Native cultures. I loved the fantasy elements that decorated it throughout. And I did really enjoy the characters who got to shine.

When I think about it, it has some superficial characteristics: All good characters are either colored, Native American (or a mix), "Foreign" or Gay. All the bad characters are white. And, you know, I think that kind of distinction is awful in any book
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: as-ebook
This terrific book is, in this order:
1) Historical fiction with non-white POV (and oh, what a nice change that is) 2) urban fantasy 3) a love story (but probably not a romance).
It's much less about vaudeville & movies than I would have guessed from its blurb, and all about these characters, their journey (literal and figurative), and the world they live in.
It's crazy well researched, but you probably wouldn't know that unless you happened to be reading something like The Warmth of Other Sun
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book that really dives headfirst into history and place. We're introduced to Redwood as a girl the night her mother is lynched, and follow her as she grows up, flees Georgia for Chicago after an attack and finds success first on the minstrel stage and then silent movies. There's a big cast of characters from all over--Redwood and her family are black and from Georgia, her sister-in-law is a "proper" black lady who means to set a good example, Redwood's true love Aidan Wildfire is part ...more
This is the story of Redwood and Aidan (Wildfire) and it begins with an event that traumatizes them both for different reasons. They are different in a world that wants them not to be and through the years they gravitate towards each other for comfort and companionship. But this event helps to mold them into the adults they become because of their response to this event. Set in late 1800s through the early 1900s, we travel with Redwood and Aiden through the swamps of Georgia to the promise land ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is brilliant.
This book is thrilling and moving and full of new ideas and wisdom.

This book, named by lit. critic, Tansy Rayner Roberts, "one of the best fantasy novels of 2011," is totally unique. There is NOTHING like it out there.

Filled with fascinating characters, including a wonderfully large number of great African-American women characters, this book is a rollicking, heart-stopping adventure full of romance and magic and amazement.

It is one of those books you CAN'T put down - and
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Crossing time, historical memory, and structures of race, gender, and society with seven-league boots, Hairston's remarkable novel is a thought-provoking pleasure for both Hairston admirers and those new to her work. Redwood, the smart, empathetic protagonist and Hairston's elegant prose carry the reader through an adventurous tale rich with historical and social complexity. Archivists, historians, librarians, blues enthusiasts and readers with related interests will find much to love in this bo ...more
Last year's Tiptree Award winner. Romance between a black woman and a biracial (white/Seminole) man which starts off in rural Georgia early in the twentieth century and ends up in Chicago. Lots of good stuff about race, class, sexuality; different approaches to building black success/maintaining black community in the US; the soul-killing effects of necessary complicity with white stereotypes of black and Native people in theatre and film; the importance of art and storytelling to surviving and ...more
A magical journey through history. Loved the stories within the story, the songs, the performances, the films––all part of a glittering, spinning spectacle. Though this is NOT an easy book to read––there are horrifying scenes of cruelty and violence (cause that's the true history of the turn of the 20th century)––the characters never lose their spirit, and fight on to create their own strange, brilliant, beautiful worlds.
Edith Hope
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a rich and magnificent world. I don't know how Hairston made me feel that the early 1900s are familiar, but she did. Her style and characters reminded me of Zora Neale Hurtson, but the magic here might fit more into a book by Isabel Allende. Perhaps one of the best things to be said of any novel is that it felt both immersive and real, and so this one did. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to wayward lovers, theater rats, and magical realism enthusiasts.
long but very worth it. slows down in the middle, but picks up again.
Joell Smith-Borne
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-f
Really liking this book. Excited that I will have read this year's Tiptree winner BEFORE Wiscon for a change!
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have such mixed feelings about this one, and honestly, it's probably a 2.5. I'll revisit and see if I want to bump it up in any way in the future.

Redwood and Wildfire is a pretty meandering book. The plot takes a while to get started and unfold, and the book and points seems excessively long. It probably needed more of a rigorous edit.

I loved the exploration of hoodoo, minstrel shows, and early motion pictures, especially from the perspectives of blacks and Native Americans. It's not somethi
Rivera Sun
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you love the fantastic: hoodoo, haints, spells, theater, backflips, blues singing, magic, circus; this book is for you. It's a wild read. Every page thrusts you into a new sweep of the adventure. (Warning, it can get dizzying at times.) The characters are strong, rich personalities both spooky and magnificent at the same time. The cultures Andrea Hairston describes are complex and so full of story that you find yourself wishing you could stay and visit longer with every twist of the fast-movi ...more
This book hooks you in right from the beginning. It's a powerful story, one about redemption, community, and moving through our own brokenness and troubles. Redwood and Aidan are an exemplary pair of characters: flawed (deeply at times), but always working to be better, and always holding true to each other, over time and distance; watching the world through their eyes is a good view. This is a book that's partly about magic, but it's also magic itself.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
While I may have a slight bias as Andrea Hairston was a former professor of mine, I still found this book a beautiful, rich, evocative and powerful story. The book merges together everything I’ve loved–theatre, women’s stories, historical research, social issues, culture and race. In other words, this amazing former professor has written the book I can only dream of writing. She has done it with powerful imagery, a true understanding of character, and the ability to bring her words to life.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A beautifully complex epic done out in fantastical prose that can sweep you up (but occasionally I got lost in the long descriptions). Refreshingly interesting and realistic characters, and probably the most effective depiction of recovery and the patience demanded of love that I have ever read. I will be reading more by this author.
N.S. Dolkart
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked Redwood and Wildfire. Though I have thankfully very little experience with sexual violence, I found the treatment of Sequoia's long recovery from trauma to be believable and, at times, heartbreaking. The only reason I didn't give five stars is that I wasn't at all invested in the making-a-movie subplot. But this was a really good book, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5. I really liked the writing style and the main characters and their romance, and the moments when Redwood used her magic were fantastic and beautiful, but in between the plot was kind of slow and meandering and didn't grab me as much, and it became hard to push through to the end.
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SciFi and Fantasy...: 2011 Tiptree Award Winner 11 65 May 20, 2012 03:52PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: 2011 Tiptree Award Winner 1 20 Apr 29, 2012 02:54PM  
Feminist Science ...: 2011 Tiptree Award 1 16 Apr 29, 2012 02:48PM  
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Andrea Hairston is an African-American science fiction and fantasy playwright and novelist who is best known for her novels Mindscape and Redwood and Wildfire. Mindscape, Hairston's first novel, won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and short-listed for the Philip K. Dick Award and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award.

She is the Artistic Director of Chrysalis Theatre and has created original productions wit
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“No one should let yesterday use up too much of today. Easy to say, hard to live.” 7 likes
“You want me to lie for you?" Aidan asked, watching them.

"Believe in me, the way you did in my mama."

Aidan wheezed and sputtered. What did she know 'bout him and Miz Garnett?

"Please." She sounded like a young gal and a grown woman too. "Believe in me."

"That's the most a person can do for another," Aidan said.

"I believe in you too.”
More quotes…