Another tale of Cloud County, Tenn., and its eldritch inhabitants: the dark-haired, dark-skinned Tufa (The Hum and the Shiver, 2011).
When musician Rob Quillen made it to the final stages of a network talent show, the producers insisted on flying in his girlfriend, Anna, but she was killed when her plane crashed, leaving Rob devastated. Then a mysterious stranger advised him to look in Tufa country for a song carved in stone to ease his desolation. With his Hispanic heritage, Rob looks like one of the Tufa, although he has not a drop of Tufa blood. Still, one of the locals invites him to an evening of Tufa music, where he’s astounded at the skill and power of their playing. Later, he tries to strike up a conversation with one of the players, Rockhouse Hicks, a supremely malevolent old man who occupies a chair outside the post office, and nearly gets beaten to a pulp for his pains. He’s rescued from further assault by Bliss Overbay, a Tufa First Daughter and EMT technician. To Bliss’ astonishment, after his head injury, Rob can now see the graveyards of the Tufa, which only Tufa should be able to do, and even read the inscriptions on the tombstones. Rob begins to grasp that there are undercurrents here beyond his comprehension—especially when he hears the eerie cries of a feral girl running in the woods. The girl, Curnen, has been cursed: When the last leaf falls from the Widow’s Tree, she will lose the last of her humanity. Bliss is faced with a terrible dilemma: By Tufa law, she may disclose nothing to outsiders, yet clearly Rob was brought here for a purpose.
This beautifully handled drama of Appalachian music and magic once again comes complete with fascinating characters, a persuasive setting and intriguing complications. Bledsoe’s on a roll.