Friday Review: Long Black Curl (Tufa #3) by Alex Bledsoe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this third installment of the Tufa series of novels, we meet Bo-Kate Wisby who, with her lover Jefferson Powell, are the only two Tufa ever permanently banished from their tribes. Now, Bo-Kate has managed to find her way back to Needsville, and she arrives with plans for revenge on everyone who took her magic, and her music, away from her. With her murderous plans in full force, it becomes obvious that there is only one person who might be able to stop her: Jefferson Powell. Will he be able to put aside his resentment, or his love for Bo-Kate, enough to do what has to be done?

This the third novel of the Tufa, an ancient faerie race banished from their homeland by the faerie queen. They are a musical people, and their magic is driven by, and deeply connected to, their music. They have settled in the back hills of Tennessee where they live mostly peacefully in Cloud County. But even here, they are a people divided, with one side adhering to the traditional First Daughters led by 12 year old Mandalay Harris and her protectors, Bliss Overbay and Bronwyn Hyatt. The other half is a darker side and is led by Rockhouse Hicks. There is an uneasy peace between the sides, and Bo-Kate intends to upend that peace and become leader of all the Tufa.

I really enjoy these books. They take a good deal of traditional Irish/Celtic legend and turn it into an original, engaging series that pulls you in and under its musical spell. The blinds open a few cracks more in each book of the series as we learn more and more details about the Tufa’s past and how their lives interweave and intersect with that past. We get more of a glimpse into Rockhouse here, as we learn some details about his earlier days. Bronwyn Hyatt doesn’t have a large a role in this book since she is in the last part of pregnancy, but she is still there when needed and is still a strong presence for the First Daughters. We see a bit more of Mandalay as a 12 year old girl, and not just the inheritor of the past history and wisdom of the First Daughters, and how that burden affects her as a child. There is a bit of time slip in here, with non-Tufa musician Byron Hurley, who was in a plane that crashed in Cloud County and was lost in faerie time for 50 years until Bo-Kate pulled him out and used him in her violent plots. There are more familiar characters woven into the story, as well as new ones. All of them are well-written, even the minor ones.

Setting is as vivid and picturable as always. Bledsoe lived in Tennessee and knows the area he writes about. He can bring it to life with color and detail. The Tufa magic is believable, the background holds together well, and the references to celtic faerie lore are used nicely to make the origins of the Tufa and their way of life intriguing. Each story so far in the series has built on the last to lay a foundation for the ongoing arcs while each individual plot is complete and engaging.

A solidly recommended series if you like fantasy, faerie stories, and modern settings that use both to tell a good tale.

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