Bloodroot

Amy Greene, Author . Knopf $24.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-307-26986-7

Despite a few vivid moments, this uneven debut, a four-generation Appalachian family epic, loses sight of the intriguing mythology it lays out early on. Though Byrdie Lamb inherited the mystical powers of the “granny women” of her grandmother's mountain village, she's failed to protect her family: daughter Clio runs away from Bloodroot Mountain at 17 to get married and is later killed, along with her husband, in a car accident, leaving their daughter, Myra, in Byrdie's care. And though Byrdie tries to raise Myra right, Myra falls under the spell of an abusive alcoholic. Her children, twins Laura and Johnny, grow up largely in fear, and eventually social workers remove them from their home. As adults, they return for different reasons: she for comfort, he for revenge. Narrated by several members of the Lamb-Odom clan, the narrative initially swirls around the mystery of Byrdie's powers, but as the story plays out, her gift (or, perhaps, curse) is unfortunately backgrounded by the violence of those who marry into the family and sow ruin. Greene has a sharp eye for combustible moments and a fine ear for dialect, but the follow-through doesn't do justice to the setup. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/19/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 11 pages - 978-0-307-71323-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-71326-1
Open Ebook - 200 pages - 978-0-307-59308-5
Hardcover - 555 pages - 978-1-4104-2501-0
Paperback - 553 pages - 978-1-59413-457-9
Paperback - 365 pages - 978-0-307-39057-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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