Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest’s book was a huge disappointment to me. And it’s a book that makes me wonder about the ringing endorsements you find on book covers- because this book had them in spades. Even Ramsey Campbell, a writer I admire, had glowing praise for it, calling the book “breathlessly readable, palpably atmospheric and compellingly suspenseful.” I just don’t get it.

Orphaned at birth, Eden Moore lives with her aunt Louise and Uncle Dave. She’s a strange little girl, but it’s hardly her fault: she sees dead people. Okay, maybe I’m being a little glib, but she does have a trio of dead women who appear to warn her of danger. And Eden is often in danger; her wacky nut-job of a cousin Malachi is often trying to kill her; she fearlessly (stupidly) wants to know the secrets of her past (why doesn’t someone just tell her already) and none of the chills added up to very much of anything for me.

I know a book isn’t working for me when I start to notice punctuation issues…and when dialogue just seems stupid- there’s a whole section in the book when Eden’s Aunt Eliza tries to convince her to go home with her and Eden keeps on saying ‘no’ just because it’s fun. Um- not so much fun for the reader. And I also found the book had a lot of exposition- Eliza conveniently has a ‘butler’ who has the answers to all the questions Eden has and is able to fill in all the missing blanks just like that.

So, not for me, I’m afraid. But reviews are generally good so I suspect I am in the minority.

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