(No Spoilers) At its core, THE HUM AND THE SHIVER is a story about a girl. Bronwyn is recovering from an incident while deployed in Iraq, and both her body and spirit are on the mend in her hometown. But the place she lives isn't simply some rural part of Appalachia, it is a community of secrets. Her people, the Tufa, are insular and quiet. Bronwyn is neither.
The characters in this story are amazing and real. I loved Bronwyn for her attitude, her development, and most of all her flaws. She is a modern woman with a strength that goes deeper than her military pursuits. She makes mistakes, some fairly terrible ones, and I still found myself rooting for her.
What shines the most about THE HUM AND THE SHIVER is Bledsoe's talent for world-building. He has created a rich setting, spun from both European and American myths, that seems real enough to touch. I won't reveal any spoilers, but I was blown away by the new take on an old myth and delighted to see a contemporary fantasy that was neither urban nor far-fetched. It could exist, this small town in the hills of Tennessee where the Tufa make their home, and if it does I got to experience it firsthand.
The writing is clear and beautiful. Bledsoe has a knack for the modern tone, creating vivid and emotional scenes without over-writing. The pace is slower as Bronwyn deals with her inner turmoil and the issues surrounding her home. For readers who want a super pulse-pounding adventure, this probably isn't your bag. But if you prefer as I do, the gradual unfolding of a story, you'll adore THE HUM AND THE SHIVER.
If I had anything to complain about, the plot seems a bit thin at times as the story focuses on the revelation of the town's and Tufa's secrets (and Bronwyn's recovery). But when it kicks into high-gear, it packs a lot of punch.
THE HUM AND THE SHIVER is about courage and--when boiled to the basics--growing up, Bronwyn is a fantastic heroine, and a thoroughly enjoyed her story. Highly recommend for lovers of contemporary fantasy, urban or paranormal, and this would be a great "bridge-book" for high fantasy readers who want to dip into modern waters.
Content Warning: PG-13 (mild language, mild sexual content, some violence, mature themes: alcohol, drugs, violence against women)
Rating: 4 Stars