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Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Cherie Priest
288p. Tor, $13.95
ISBN: 0765313081
(October 2005)

book cover Debut novelist Cherie Priest sets out to update the Southern gothic and although itıs a not entirely successful effort, itıs definitely an enthusiastic one. Multiracial, cool, gorgeous Eden Moore is a heroine so full of spunk that she verges on the obnoxious at times but, like the novel itself, she possesses a certain undeniable charm. Unlike her literary predecessors, who couldnıt manage much more than screams and faints, Eden handles everything with aplomb. From a seeing the dead to a determined, if ineffective, stalker-cousin with murderous intent to revelations of rotting incestuous family roots to an over-the-top supernatural finale set in the middle of a swamp -- Eden can handle it. Priest is most effective as a writer when describing Edenıs youthful ghostly encounters with eerie panache, but with sequels in the offing she may stick with Buffyesque supernatural butt-kicking rather than more nuanced chills. She has obvious potential no matter what path she takes. (CFQ Vol. 37, Issue #8)

Note: The book also sports a terrific John Jude Palencar cover and a well-designed interior.