cover image Gather Her Round: Tufa, Book 5

Gather Her Round: Tufa, Book 5

Alex Bledsoe. Tor, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8334-1

In the gripping fifth novel starring the mysterious, fairy-descended Tufa (after Chapel of Ease), the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee once again come alive with magic, music, and mystery. Bledsoe adeptly blends fairy tales and folklore as he expands the concept of exiled fairies, much diminished, dwelling in the mountains and hollows of America. When a young Tufa woman, Kera Rogers, is killed by an enormous feral hog, it throws her community into upheaval. Both of her boyfriends, Adam Procure and Duncan Gowen (who has just learned of Kera’s involvement with Adam), vow to hunt down the animal; the Tufa leaders look for supernatural causes behind the attack; and the human authorities seek to protect everyone, unaware of any strangeness in the air. When the hog claims another victim, it seems as though the situation will only be resolved through the use of skillful song and the intervention of uneasy spirits. In this installment, Bledsoe explores grief, guilt, love, and despair as a not-so-random car crash sets off a chain of tragedy and reprisal. The only thing marring this beautifully atmospheric tale is a framing sequence that, while solidly executed, draws away some of the tension. Still, Bledsoe comfortably inhabits the space where rural fantasy and magic realism overlap and makes it his own. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary. (Mar.)