Blackbirds is a modern version of the Southern Gothic novel, with at least four and twenty standard horror elements: ghosts, scary mansions, knife-wielding heroine, maniacal cousins, inbreeding, crazy old women, insane asylums and so on. Traveling from hilltops in Tennessee to swamps in Florida, Eden Moore, the young heroine, hits the highpoints of the horror genre as she goes. Eden is the daughter of a woman put in an insane asylum to hide the fact that she is pregnant. She is raised by her aunt and her aunt's husband and by three ghosts who talk to her throughout her childhood. As she becomes a woman, she sets out to uncover her past for herself. The plot is a little intense for the prepubescent reader, but great for the high school student familiar with Poe and Hawthorne. The echoes of the classics, blended with the modern edgy heroine who has no maiden-in-distress characteristics, make an interesting contrast for the reader who knows the classics of American literature. The ending is a little too neat and therapeutically modern, especially after all the drama of the previous events, but it's a good story nonetheless. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Tor, 285p., Ages 15 to adult.
Girl in search of her true parents unearths disquieting family murders in a murky horror debut set in the mountains of Tennessee. Of uncertain parentage, with a racial makeup somewhere between black and white (her teenaged mother died in childbirth while incarcerated in Pine Breeze mental asylum), Eden has a gift for divination. While growing up with Aunt Lulu and Uncle Dave on Signal Mountain, she gets in trouble at school and in town because of her psychic visions. She sees three sisters pursued and killed by their father, Avery, and comes to identify herself with Miabella, who was Avery's youngest, favored daughter. Meanwhile, in the world of the living, young Eden is stalked by her delusional cousin Malachi Dufresne. His mother, Tatie Eliza, is steeped in the cult of a certain 19th-century practitioner of black magic, John Gray, who was eventually killed by priests. It turns out that Avery was also a follower of Gray, and someone has tapped into Avery's destructive power. Unless Eden can find an elusive book of spells, Gray's followers will emerge again from obscurity. With the help of Harry, a priest turned servant who knows the whole story of Eden's ancestry, Eden takes off on a road trip. In Highlands Hammock State Park she stumbles onto a coven of cultists who are still trying to raise John Gray. Kidnapped at the swamp site by misguided Malachi, who believes she's on the dark side, Eden finally manages to conjure angry Avery and attempts to restore peace to the restless ghosts. Wildly contrived and oddly chilly, despite all the ranting and raving.
“Cherie Priest kicks ass! Four and Twenty Blackbirds is lush, rich, intense, and as dark and dangerous as a gator-ridden swamp.” Maggie Shayne, New York Times bestselling author of Blue Twilight
“Fine writing, humor, thrills, real scares, the touch of the occult . . . had me from the first page. I read straight through. An absolutely wonderful debut, and a book not to be missed.” Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author of Haunted, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Cherie Priest has created a chilling page-turner in her debut novel. Her voice is rich, earthy, soulful, and deliciously southern as she weaves a disturbing yarn like a master! Awesome-gives you goosebumps!” L.A. Banks, author of Minion and The Vampire Huntress Legend Series, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Spooky and engrossing, this revenge play is as sticky as a salmagundi made from blood and swamp dirt. Priest can write scenes that are jump-out-of-your-skin scary. This is the first installment in what I can only hope will be a long and terrifying friendship.” Cory Doctorow, author of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Wonderful. Enchanting. Amazing and original fiction that will satisfy that buttery Southern taste, as well as that biting aftertaste of the dark side. I loved it.” Joe R. Lansdale, Stoker- and Edgar-winning author of The Bottoms, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Breathlessly readable, palpably atmospheric and compellingly suspenseful, Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a considerable debut. It's written with great control and fluency, and it looks like the start of quite a career.” Ramsey Campbell, World Horror Grand Master
“Cherie Priest has mastered the art of braiding atmosphere, suspense and metaphysics into a resonant ghost story that offers even more than what you hope for.” Katherine Ramsland, bestselling author of GHOST: Investigating the Other Side, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Southern Gothic at its best. An absorbing mystery told with humour and bite.” Kelley Armstrong, author of Industrial Magic and the Otherworld series, on Four and Twenty Blackbirds
“Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a rare bird, the novel you wish you'd written yourselfexcellent!” C.J. Henderson, author of The Things That Are Not There
“Four and Twenty Blackbirds is an extraordinary first novel-heck, it's an extraordinary novel, period. It's a ghost story and a voodoo mystery-and like any good Southern Gothic, it has a healthy obsession with race and inbreeding. But Blackbirds is more than the sum of its traditional parts. Cherie Priest's writing, while decidedly capable of giving you the creeps, is infused with a refreshing spunkiness and interesting, believable characters . . . . Fans of supernatural horror should keep an eye on Cherie Priest!” SciFiDimensions.com