Bloodroot

bloodrootThe Short Version: The story of three generations of women living on Bloodroot Mountain in Appalachia.  All of them touched with some hint of witchery, all of them wild and unruly – all of them caught up with men who are far less than they seem.

The Review: Okay, I’m sorry, but how did this ever make it onto the ToB shortlist last year?  At least its competition (the well-matched The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) actually had a unique and interesting gimmick.  This has such promise – promise of American Gothic and regular gothic – but never develops it anywhere.  Instead, I’m reminded of that meme from last year’s Oscar-time where they replaced movie titles with more literal ones and the one for Winter’s Bone was “Poor People are Terrifying” – that’s sort of what I felt about this book except less ‘terrifying’ and more ‘boring’.

Because, honestly, that’s what I was while I read this book: bored.  It wasn’t bad but my god… zzzzz…

It all gets off on a good foot, with Myra’s grandmother narrating the tale.  She has a distinctive twang and while I often find accents written out to be annoying, I didn’t here.  I thought Byrdie was refreshing, in fact, and so I was very excited to get into the novel.  Unfortunately, her voice alternates with Doug’s… who is boring and plain.  The dichotomy is even more clear because every few pages, the narrator switches.  The middle portion of the novel, narrated by Myra’s children, also features relatively mundane writing – and I guess I can allow the similarities in tone (they’re twins) except for the fact that their voices basically feel the same as Doug’s.  Their story itself is somewhat interesting, but I was mostly frustrated by the fact that I knew – instinctively, perhaps with a bit of “the touch” or whatever they call it – that the reveal of “what Myra did” would not be really at all interesting.

And guess what?  It wasn’t.  It was predictable and lacked any sense of payoff.  I will say I really did appreciate the heavy Gothic influence on Myra’s chapter, though.  The house that smelled like sulfur, getting locked under her and John’s house, the dead snake with the rabbits… those moments were interesting and intriguing but they honestly felt as though they belonged to a different book.  And therein lay the problem: I was only intrigued because they felt like ideas scavenged from a different book.

Rating: 2 out of 5. I realize that I don’t really even have all that much to say about the book at this point.  It was a slog – and it’s rare that I read a slog anymore.  It wasn’t a good book, I’m sorry to say, and while another might find something truly interesting and redeeming about it, I found myself fighting to stay interested.  I even missed my intended Hallow’s Read book because of it.  Le sigh.  What a start to year three…

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