Cherie Priest: Four and Twenty Blackbirds

 [Four and Twenty Blackbirds cover] I’m going to try to go back to writing about what I’ve read; that was the original purpose of this blog. Four and Twenty Blackbirds is Cherie Priest’s debut novel, and the first of three in this setting. Eden Moore’s mother died at her birth; she was raised by her grandmother for a few years, and then by her aunt and uncle. From a very young age, she can see the ghosts of three sisters; occasionally, she sees other ghosts as well. She regards her ghosts as protective/guardian spirits, but she doesn’t like it when she sees other ghosts. When she’s ten or so, a teenage boy tries to kill her while yelling about how she is Avery and evil and must die. She knows very little about her mother (her aunt doesn’t like to talk about her), she knows nothing about her father (her aunt says no one knows who he was), and she has no idea who Avery is. The book covers Eden’s life from very young to adulthood and her attempts to find out more about her parents and the past.

I did like this book, even though it’s not my usual sort of thing. I found Eden’s school years to be a bit slow going, but I understand why they were needed. Once Eden was old enough to do more than ask her aunt questions, the book picked up for me. It’s a very atmospheric book; parts of it are in an abandoned hospital, an antebellum mansion, a very old monastery in St. Augustine, and a Florida swamp, each of which have their own inherent creepiness. It was not as suspenseful for me as it could have been because I’d read the third book and knew some of what happened. I was still surprised by the identity of Eden’s father, though I should not have been.

I read the third book (Not Flesh nor Feathers) first because it was available in the convenient library branch. I’d passed on it before because I’m not really a zombie person, but last time I looked at it I realized the zombies were in Chattanooga so I had to read it. My mother was from there and my grandparents lived there (in the same town as Eden). It read well enough on its own and was more like the further adventures of Eden than a direct sequel; Eden herself was still affected by the events of this book, but the main action was not really related. I liked it well enough to try to track down the other books, but unfortunately, the middle book is not available at either library system I can access.

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