October 27, 2012

Book Review: The Firefly Witch by Alex Bledsoe

Years before he became a novelist, Alex Bledsoe wrote a series of short stories that, according to him, we would call Urban Fantasy, but predate the modern swath of novels in the genre. Now, Bledsoe has decided to polish and republish these stories in ebook format. This first volume in the series collects the first three stories together.

These are the tales of The Firefly Witch.

Tanna Woicistikoviski lives in a small town in Tennessee, a graduate student of psychology and parapsychology. She is also blind. However, when fireflies are present, or particularly strong psychic events, Tanna can see. She is also a witch of not inconsiderate talent and has a mission and drive to help people.

Our point of view and entry into the world of the Firefly is Ry Tully. With few exceptions, the point of view in the three stories is a first person narrative from Ry's point of view. Ry is not Wiccan, has no magical talent, and works for the local small-town paper. Thus, he provides a outsider's view into Tanna's world. And as his relationship develops and deepens with Tanna, we get to see how he reacts to Tanna's world.

The Chill in the Air Wakes the Ghosts off the Ground introduces us to Ry, and to Tanna, and how they first met.

In Lost and Found we do break the point of view of Ry, as Tanna and Ry encounter and deal with the first ghost ever to exist.

The Darren Stevens Club tells us the story of Tanna and Ry's handfasting, and the challenges of a Wiccan marriage in a small town in Tennessee, on both sides.

There is a bit of a bright cheerful naivete to the stories, something that the author alludes to in the introduction to the story collection. Its certainly not the same style as, say, The Sword-Edged Blonde or The Hum and the Shiver. It's my thought that Alex is wrong. These are not solid Urban Fantasy, but rather are much closer to the amorphous boundary between that genre and the genre of Paranormal Romance. The relations firmly follow the conventions of that genre, with HEA sort of endings. There are challenges and upsets in relationship between Tanna and Ry, but such challenges, as well as the situations they get themselves into, are always overcome.

Are they worth your time, money and energy? I read these three stories quickly, over lunch at a local Thai place, having none of my usual reading material available. I was charmed (and, frankly, surprised) by this side of Bledsoe's work. And yes, Alex, 15 years on, the writing in the three stories still holds up compared to your more recent work. I can see your growth as a writer, but many aspiring writers could only wish to write as well as you did, back then.

Posted by Jvstin at October 27, 2012 2:34 PM