(This review is of the audiobook version, narrated by Emily Janice Card and Stefan Rdunicki)
The Tufa are an enigmatic people, living almost exclusively in Cloud County, in the backwoods of Tennessee. No one knows exactly where they came from, or how they ended up in Cloud County. And the Tufa aren’t exactly willing to share their secrets with outsiders. They live their lives in their homes and towns, and have little interaction with the outside world. Except for Bronwyn Hyatt, pure Tufa and First Daughter. who, restless and resentful of a tradition that would dictate her destiny, left Cloud County and enlisted in the Army. Now, wounded and decorated a hero, she returns home to heal. But there are signs that only the Tufa recognize pointing to something terrible about to happen, and it is pushing Bronwyn toward something she may not be prepared for.
This was an interesting book. It is not a big, adventuresome fantasy, with larger-than-life heroes and fast-paced action like Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse novels. This is more internal and can seem to be a bit slow in spots. But the characters are true, the mystery is multi-faceted, and the plot, while a bit thin in spots, is quite workable. Bronwyn is a layered character: tough soldier, strong-willed woman, loyal family member, scared little girl, all of whom are battling not only physical scars, but inner ones, too.
The mystery of the Tufa is never completely explained, but it is strongly hinted at, and it is an undercurrent that weaves in and out of the story, and lends it an otherworld quality, even though it is firmly set in the present day Tennessee woods. Music is an integral part of the legend and lives of all the Tufa and the melodies wind through everyone’s lives and stories. Part of Bronwyn’s struggle is to re-awaken her own music, which she seems to have lost somewhere in her quest to forge her own way.
The Hum and the Shiver is not the story for those looking for high fantasy, adventure, and a quick, fast plot. This one is slower-paced, yes, but that suits the Tufa and Bronwyn’s quest to finally find herself and her place in a world that is facing changes it can’t deny any longer. It’s a good read, a satisfying read, and you will finish wanting to read more.
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