I really wanted to like this book, and at times I found it promising. It wasn't until the last third or so that I felt a deep disappointment. If it wa..Show More »s supposed to be about a strange tribe of people with a mysterious past, it failed to create the right atmosphere. While bits and pieces of the mystery are sprinkled throughout, it really isn't about that at all. It's all done so vaguely that when something finally happens it's hard to tell that it's happened. (Were they flying at the dance? why not say so?)
It IS about pettiness and violence and a spoiled brat of a female lead. And it's about the people who know there's something weird going on but who can't find out anything. Ultimately, it was a disjointed letdown, as if even the author didn't know what it was about. I will take a look at the reviews for book 2 before I decide to buy it. I hope the author stops being so tentative about the Tufa, and leaves out the red necks and white trash element. I also thought the foul language was gratuitous. Why would a Tufa join the military and fight in a war? I just didn't get it. Why would Tufa go to college? It made no sense.
The part where the two men finally go to look at the painting was absurd. They recognize a character from the painting while describing it as showing a woman from the back. How do you recognize someone from the back?
I also really didn't care for the shared narration -- it was distracting and odd. Either reader would have been fine alone, but not both.
This second book proved to be much more political in terms of how the Tufa live and what their future holds. As I mentioned in the last book, despite ..Show More »most people thinking the Tufa are all one people, they are actually two factions who are vying for power. The true villain of these books–who is actually both father and villain, in a sense–has his plots revealed more. Unlike the two villains of the last book, there’s more depth to this character and his villainy. His presence means more to the Tufa people, and his possible demise also leaves all the Tufa in a state of flux, wondering what will happen to them if he ceases to exist. This book explores the depths of cruelty and how deep hatred can run, even for those people should protect and love. Bledsoe plays around with some interesting lore and ideas where the Tufa are concerned, and I’ve enjoyed seeing where he takes their story.
I can’t stress enough that these are not pretty, flowery books. There’s plenty of violence and language. Life in the mountains is hard, even for the Tufas. Because there’s more focus on finding out who and what the Tufa are, you don’t get as many snatches of random songs as in the last book instead you get more portents and history, especially the history of where this bad blood comes from. However, the songs you do get in this book tell stories just as powerful as the last, and you get longer, fleshed out musical tales, which makes up for it because it probably all evens out in the end. Beauty is expressed in their music, but still there’s so much tragedy in it, as well, expressing the ordeals and hardships of the Tufa life.
I did listen to this one nearly the whole way through this time, but I was able to better pay attention this time even with Rudnicki’s deep, lulling voice. I think it helped tremendously that there was only one narrator for this book instead of having various breaks in the story as the narrator changes. That works for some stories, but this definitely benefited from only having one narrator. Still no singing, though, so if you’re interested in these books because you expect to get some off-key narrator singing, don’t bother. The verses are chanted, which is probably the best deal for the narrator and readers alike.
These books do an amazing job of being very accessible to new readers and acting as standalones. Sure, the same characters show up, but Bledsoe provides an amazing amount of context to what they mean to the story, even down to having some passages read almost exactly the same from the previous books. You won’t get lost regardless of which book you start with it seems, but for even more context about the Tufa, I’m sure you should get around to reading the first book at some point as the politics seem to be becoming a larger focal point now than in the first book where it was only beginning to burgeon, even though you know something’s simmering underneath the surface.
I wasn’t supremely happy with the wording of the very last line of the ending or the “epilogue” type thing that follows, especially depending on how the next story goes as far as that “epilogue” goes. Rob could sometimes come off as a “special snowflake” since he is definitely not Tufa. I liked that he didn’t learn that somewhere on his great-great-great grandmother’s side he had a Tufa relative, but there were times when things were just a little too convenient for Rob. Also, it would’ve been nice to learn more about Rob and his anger issues. I did like that, even though Rob wasn’t Tufa, he had the music in his soul and didn’t need that qualifier to make him a musician who had music in his bones. I found this story just as engaging as the first as more of the Tufa’s true nature comes to light. This also means that the story becomes more whimsical as readers learn more truths about the Tufa people. Whether you prefer the more grounded magical realism of the first book or the magical realism blended with magical fantasy of this one will totally be up to you as the reader. I enjoyed both. Side note: A painting mentioned in both this book and the prior book is a real painting. I had to go stare at it a while on Wikipedia.