Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was a bit reluctant to read this. Many of the online reviews I looked at classed it as horror, and I am not usually a fan of horror stories. But so many people also said that Ms. Priest is a good writer, and I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did.
For one, it is not a strict horror story. Yes, there are ghosts all through the book, but there is really only one scene that could be called scary. (The one in the girl's bathroom at summer camp, but to me, it was more creepy than scary.) And there is killing and blood, but nothing that doesn't fit the story and it is not particularly gruesome. I've read worse.
The story is about Eden, a young woman who sees ghosts. She has been "haunted" by the spirits of three sisters, who are relatives of hers, since she was a young girl. Her aunt tells her that the ladies will never hurt her, and they don't. But the do raise questions for Eden, who has been raised by her aunt since her mother died when Eden was a baby. Eden's aunt is reluctant to answer Eden's questions about her mother and family, so Eden takes it upon herself to find out. As she digs deeper into her family tree, complex relationships are revealed and mysteries compound.
The story is told from Eden's point of view. She is a brash young lady, with a definite sarcastic edge. While a likeable character, her biting commentary on everything and everyone can get to be a bit much. The old Southern family value system is well done here, with secrets aplenty and family pride getting in the way of honesty. The closer Eden gets to the truth, the more walls she has to break down to find it.
The Southern gothic feel to the story is well written. It moves at a pretty good pace, with only a few points where there is some drag. It was an enjoyable, easily read book and a pretty decent ghost story.
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