Lots of authors have an amazing first novel and then simply fade away. But others learn and improve, becoming exceptional craftsmen, even masters, of literature. Alex Bledsoe is well on his way to being one of the latter. A year ago I reviewed Bledsoe's Wake of the Bloody Angel, the fourth book in another series. Then I went back, as I said I would, and read the first one in that series. I was seriously disappointed by it--very graphic sex and violence, not made up for by quality. I haven't read any more in that series. However, in November I gave Bledsoe another chance. I read The Hum and the Shiver, a first book in a very different series. And that one was a win. Wisp of a Thing is even better.
I feel comfortable saying the Tufa books are urban fantasy. The setting isn't very urban, though! Definitely rural, even remote, set in the valleys and hollows of East Tennessee's mountains where the Tufa have hidden for centuries. These books aren't for kids--elements of horror and sexual abuse would give this a PG13 rating as a movie. Certain elements, such as the strong musical content, show a familiarity with Charles de Lint (and Jim Butcher), but the originality of the characters and quality of the musical and historical background lift it up beyond any derivative accusations. Country or bluegrass fans will love this book. American Idol fans might enjoy it, too, since the main character, Rob, is a season winner with a famous tragedy. I'm looking forward to more stories about Bliss Overbay, Mandalay, and the rest of Cloud County. ~ Tessa J. Eger 4.5 out of 5 stars August 2013