Four and Twenty Blackbirds -- Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest, you have a new fan.
Colleen, you were right.
Chrissy, you mush read this.
Since early childhood, Eden Moore has been aware of the three sisters:
Willa, Luanna--she's over here.
Two other women appeared, one on either side of her. They had the same vaguely African features as the first, with hair bound into submission by scarves tied in loose knots. Their faces might have been round once, but their skin was drawn back and their wide cheekbones made shelves that shadowed their hollow jaws. Their teeth were exaggerated by fleshy lips robbed of their firmness, and when they spoke to one another it was a terrible sight.
There she is, his darling one.
His pretty one.
Oh, Mae, she's returned to you. She's returned to us.
Mae crouched low to examine me with her enormous, brimming eyes. My baby, she said, reaching one scrawny arm to my face. My baby. Miabella.
But when the back of her hand brushed my cheek, the horror of her dusty, dead breath broke the spell and my screams split the supernatural quiet that had descended over the mountainside. I howled until my cries went hoarse, and the women withdrew. Mae left me last, turning with a slow, miserable sob and vanishing into the crowded trees. The last thing I saw before I shrieked myself unconscious was her retreating back, slashed and stained with long, dark streaks that could have been nothing but blood.
As terrifying as the first interaction, though, it quickly becomes apparent to Eden that these women mean her no harm -- just the opposite. A few years later, they save her life.
I don't want to give you any more than that* -- if a Southern Gothic story, complete with declining mansion, a creepy old woman, a mysterious and convoluted family history, ghosts, murder, magic, a lunatic would-be murderer who thinks he talks to God, and an abandoned asylum** sound at all appealing to you, totally give it a try.
Actually, if you like the cover, give it a try. Because the cover art is spot on. El perfect-o. I love it.
Personally, I'm going to order all of her books as soon as I get my next paycheck. (I'm already worried about what to do when I've read them all. Anyone? Suggestions for more modern Southern Gothic? Please?)
*The description on the back of the book, by the way, gives way too much information for my taste.
**That segment reminded me of Session 9. Then I was even MORE creeped out.