Four and Twenty Blackbirds: Flawed but interesting Southern Gothic

fantasy book reviews Cherie Priest Eden Moore 1. Four and Twenty   Blackbirds 2. Wings to the Kingdom 3. Not Flesh Nor Feathersfantasy book reviews Cherie Priest Four and Twenty BlackbirdsFour and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

If you’re a reader who can’t get enough of crumbling antebellum mansions, dark family secrets, and muggy Southern weather, you’ll enjoy Four and Twenty Blackbirds. This Southern Gothic ghost story was Cherie Priest’s first novel, and while it’s imperfect, it’s quite readable and shows a lot of promise.

Set in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Four and Twenty Blackbirds possesses a strong, tangible sense of place. I once spent a brief time in Chattanooga during the summer, and Priest took me right back. She has a knack for the sensory detail that makes a book’s setting come to life. A particularly vivid scene is one in which the heroine, Eden, explores a crumbling hospital in search of clues to her family’s past.

And what a past it is. Eden’s family history is filled with all the baggage you might expect from Southern Gothic: racism, abuse, incest, murder, mental illness, and of course, ghosts. Eden’s quest begins when some of the family’s secrets catch up to her and put her in mortal danger.

Eden is an interesting protagonist; not always likeable, but always dynamic. She’s got a catty streak, and sometimes she annoyed me, but she never bored me.

I was disappointed in the ending — I wanted something more. But, I enjoyed Four and Twenty Blackbirds and look forward to reading Cherie Priest’s more recent novels.

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KELLY LASITER is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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