Tag Archive: Bledsoe; Alex

Nov 13

Review: The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe

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It’s been too long since I’ve had the chance to sit down for an evening and read a book cover to cover, but I took Saturday night off from life and did just that. Plus, The Sword-Edged Blonde has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of months since I first got it from the library, and a million renewals later, it was begging to be read.

Now, let’s get one thing straight: Alex Bledsoe is one of my favorite writer finds of the last year. The Tufa novels (Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing) are fantastic, and I’m eagerly awaiting the finale of the trilogy. But this book…I don’t know, it’s just not quite there.

It can be tough going back to read the earlier work of a writer that you enjoy. Because while sometimes there is a youth at play that can get deadened later on, more often, you find that their skills grew as their list of completed works expanded, and that’s the case here. The Sword-Edged Blonde isn’t bad by any definition of the word; it just doesn’t feel as polished or as deep as some of Bledsoe’s other books that I’ve read.

Anywho, the story follows Eddie LaCrosse, blade for hire, in a fantasy kingdom where a lot of the names are made up and the points don’t matter. Eddie gets sent on a red herring mission to find the daughter of a local king, but he ends up being sort-of kidnapped by a spy from his homeland. He gets taken home (I am skipping all the made up names. I hate the made up names in fantasy), and the king turns out to be his childhood best friend. And the king’s sister was his fiance before she was killed in MYSTERIOUS BUT OFT ALLUDED TO circumstances. So, anywho, the skinny is that the king needs Eddie’s help to figure out why his very sweet wife seems to have murdered and eaten their son.

So Eddie goes adventuring. And it has a lot to do with retribution for past crimes, and the bit about horses being important is telegraphed super early (especially if you know the Epona Roman mythology reference). It all wraps up rather neatly. It brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell saying “The good end happily and the bad unhappily. That’s what fiction is.” That’s okay for some light reading, but don’t expect to tread on major themes here.

But the plot moves quickly, and you really end up rooting for Eddie. The novel feels like urban fantasy due to the writing and how the characters speak, but its set in the wayback when fantasy worlds. And the book has one of the best dedications I’ve ever read, so at least thumb through it for that.

Like I said, this is no deep read, but it’s good enough that I’ve ordered the second book. I’m willing to spend some time seeing what’s in store for Eddie LaCrosse.

JMF Rating: 6/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Sep 08

Review: Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe

Wisp of a Thing

So almost exactly a month ago, I read and reviewed The Hum and the Shiver.  I really liked it, but for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to open the next Tufa novel.  Maybe it was school starting back or a wave of new projects or my end of August moodiness (don’t ask), but it sat benignly on my shelf, wanting to be read or to go back to the library.  So, I picked it up Friday evening and finished it a few hours later.

I was so scared Bledsoe would drop the ball on Wisp of a Thing, but these fears turned out to be totally unwarranted.  He knows what he’s doing with this Appalachian tale of magic songs and long, unspoken histories.  

Like in Hum, Bledsoe introduces an outsider character to get the wheels of the plot moving.  A famous musician, Rob Quillen, has come to the Tufa land to find a song that can cure a broken heart.  Because Rob was on that universe’s version of American Idol, and his girlfriend died in a plane crash on the way to see him for the finale.  So he has major guilt about this.  And other things.  There is quite a bit of foreshadowing, and I drank it up like a fine homemade gravy.

Rob meets Bliss, EMT driver and regent of the good Tufas who debuted in Hum. Although Rob isn’t Tufa, he can suddenly see lots of things that the Tufas have hidden in plain sight, including grave inscriptions, their fae wings, and the hand signs they use to ward against evil.  As he furthers his search for the magic song, Bliss lets him more deeply into the Tufa’s magical world, its fights, and a conflict that will reshape their valley for generations to come.

There’s not much you can say about this tight little story without giving too much away, which is pretty high praise.  The main characters from the first book make reappearances, but by shifting the focus on to new characters, Bledsoe gives us a new perspective on the secret goings on in Tufa country.

The only thing that I had a weird time with was the titular wisp of a thing, a wild forest girl who has been cursed by the leader of the bad Tufas to disintegrate into nothingness at the end of the season.  She becomes fixated on Rob for no good reason, and this fixation propels a good deal of the plot forward.  Some of it seems a little convenient, but with the night winds playing the role of the gods in these tales, I guess chance and coincidence can seem a little forced.  The very end when Rob leaves Tufa country didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I can’t really say more without ruining all the goodness.  I just hope it gets more…resolved in the next book.

Someone told me the Tufa Novels are only going to be a trilogy, and that makes me incredibly sad.  They’re awesome, fast reads that always leave me wanting more.

JMF Rating: 7.5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Aug 10

Review: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

Hum and the Shiver

Books set in the South are not typically my thing.  I tend to like my fiction a little more urban and a lot less Appalachian.  The heroes of my stories do not typically drive or ride in pickup trucks.  But Cynthia, the reader advisory queen at the library where I work, has raved about this book.  And the last time she did this and I tried out her suggestion, it was the fantastically good A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.  I took her advice again, and I’m so glad that I did.

Okay, so The Hum and the Shiver follows the return of massively injured war hero Bronwyn Hyatt to her home town in Cloud County, a country no-Starbucks town in the middle of Appalachia.  She’s back from the Iraq War where terrible things that must not be relived happened.  While the media swarms her, all the townspeople hold back because they’re small town people.  Also, they’re kinda magic, but totally in a country way.  No massive conjuring here.  This is salt of the earth magic.

I mean, you find that out really fast.  Everyone in the town with Tufa blood can read signs in nature for portents, and they all have an affinity for music and song.

Anywho, as Bronwyn recovers from her multiple leg fractures, she realizes she’s forgotten how to play any of the music that’s so important to her and her family.  So she has to learn again so she can regain some of her power and so she can learn her mother’s song because signs are pointing to her death.  She also has to fight off her bad girl history, embodied in her disgustingly country bad boy ex-boyfriend Dwayne.   And she has to combat nosy reporters, ancient tradition, and more guys wanting to date/marry/sex her up than is really healthy.   In short, there’s a lot going on.

I know, that description makes it sound kind of hokey, but it’s really not.  It’s actually fantastic.  The story hums along quickly, and you desperately want to know what happens next.  I don’t want to ruin any of the twists and turns of it, because I think that you should have the chance to discover those parts for yourself.  And even when the story of this book gets resolved, I was so hooked into the world that Bledsoe had created that I immediately ordered the next book.

And the best part is, if you want to try it out, it’s only $3 on Amazon for the Kindle book at like $6.50 for the paperback.  You can’t beat that.

Nina Looking Pleased

I know, Nina.  That’s such a good deal.

Go ahead and try it out.  It may be outside your typical genres, but a little stretch never hurt anyone.  And you’ll probably like it.  Because it’s awesome.

JMF Rating: 9/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF