Friday, September 23, 2011

Appalachia is the new exotic destination

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.  I just finished Amy Greene's Bloodroot which was set in Appalachia.  The setting in combination with the heartbreaking complexities of this family made for a truly intruiging story.  Bloodroot is narrated by six different people over the course of four generations.  The main character in the story is Myra Odom, a woman who was unlucky in love and family.  Her grandmother, Byrdie, begins the story by giving us the background of Myra's parents and their death, which leads Myra to living with Byrdie.  Their family has a history of untimely deaths, a desperate need to leave Bloodroot Mountain, and a belief in magic.  The other person giving us the background of Myra is her childhood friend, Doug.  His narration seemingly exists to explain the pull that Myra has on the men around her.  She has the ability to entrance nearly every man that she encounters.  Unfortunately, this includes the no-good John Odom.  Shortly after meeting John, Myra hears of a love spell that involves eating the heart of a chicken.  According to the tale, if you do this, the person you love will return the feelings.  Whether due to the spell or not, John and Myra fall in love and get married.  Their relationship turns abusive and awful but Myra believes this is the price she must pay for having employed the love spell.  The rest of the book is told through the point of view of Myra, John, and their twins, Johnny and Laura.  The relationships are tormented, passionate, and full of questions.  They struggle to break free of their family history while still trying to understand it.  Bloodroot Mountain seems to be it's own character in the Odom family saga.  It watches their drama, silently keeps their secrets, and calls to them from afar.  Not only were the relationships, or lack thereof, compelling, but the Appalachian setting lent a feeling of added twists and complexity.  I think if you enjoy intricate family relationships or stories with a gothic setting, you'll be pleasantly surprised with Bloodroot

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