Michael Farris Smith ð 1 CHARACTERS

CHARACTERS Ý Blackwood ↠ In this timeless mythical tale of unforgiving justice and elusive grace rural Mississippi townsfolk shoulder the pain of generations as something dangerous lurks in the enigmatic kudzu of the woods The town of Red Bluff Mississippi has seen better days though those who've held on have little memory of when that was Myer the county'sN all too well though he too is willing to hope for when he meets and falls in love with Celia the local bar owner The Deep South gives these noble broken and driven folks the gift of human connection while bestowing upon them the crippling weight of generations With broken histories and vagabond hearts the townsfolk wrestle with the evil in the woods and the wickedness that lurks in each and every one of. Readers like myself who have followed this author from the beginning know what to expect from his novels Southern gothic grit with a dark dark tone This book is no exception and it starts out with a bang well not a bang exactly let's just say a shocking event From there it takes off and the events build from there A young man returning for answers another man woman and buy who are looking for some kind of life a place to stop A young woman whose mother may have had answers but us now gone and a sheriff who is clearly over his headThere is clearly something wrong in the town of Red Bluffs Mississippi but where does it originateThis place is one big ghost story Stories about the valley Stories about the man who killer himself It's what we doKudzu covers everything left alone even Colton's old house but what else lives there Things will get much worse before answers are found What and who will be leftAs usual I couldn't stop reading this darn book but either I missed something or some uestions remain unanswered Even so this was an exciting rideARC from Netgalley


In this timeless mythical tale of unforgiving justice and elusive grace rural Mississippi townsfolk shoulder the pain of generations as something dangerous lurks in the enigmatic kudzu of the woods The town of Red Bluff Mississippi has seen better days though those who've held on have little memory of when that was Myer the county's aged sardonic lawman still thinks it can prove itself when confronted by a. The talented Michael Farris Smith's latest Southern gothic novel is hard edged gritty and uncompromising in its bleak vision and darkness with its anatomy of a dying small town Red Bluff at which unnamed drifters a man woman and boy arrive after their car breaks down They have discarded one young boy earlier unable to afford to keep him they are ragged desperate and starving Smith asks deep philosophical and religious uestions in his narrative as the drifters settle amidst the lush landscape of kudzu vines vines that harbour the past secrets swallowing homes and any signs of humanity with ease It's a veritable Garden of Eden with its original sin with its serpent of horror the sinister bearing the heavy weight of history and past generations This is a tale of broken people of despair physical and mental pain madness and guilt of lives forged in hell and tragedyAs a boy in 1956 Colbert experiences a disturbing trauma he is now returning to Red Bluff in 1976 responding to the town's offer of free abandoned storefronts for musicians writers and artists in return for maintaining the building He is a junkyard sculptor with an inner need to understand his past thinking no one will remember him in fact it seems as if no one has forgotten him Sheriff Myer wanted to help the drifters move on and seeing they are not going to feels the town will respond to their needs He is to be sorely disappointed as the woman and boy scavenge among the garbage to be judged rejected and found wanting Celia the bar owner tries to feed the boy but he is like a wild animal and takes a while before taking up her offer Colbert finds love when he least expected to but the trauma from the past still has him in its hold As madness loss violence and grief take their toll we see souls seeking evidence that they exist some form of connection with others rather than the neglect and indifference that is their lot Smith's harsh realism portrays a town that only acts when twin boys go missing followed by the disappearance of Celia What lurks hidden amongst the Kudzu vines is the terror of nightmares a malignant presence that pulsates with a life and a voice of its own There is little in the way of light but there are glimmers of hope love and redemption in the depiction of a town broken folk and splintered families This is a utterly gripping read of lost dreams and lives of never ending pain and misery a litany of life's horrors that its impossible to look away from an allegory of the troubled and disturbing world we live in today A must read that packs a huge punch and which I recommend highly Many thanks to No Exit Press and Oldcastle Books

REVIEW Blackwood

BlackwoodStrange family of drifters the sheriff believes that the people of Red Bluff can be accepting rational even good The opposite is true this is a landscape of fear and ghosts of regret and violence transformed by the kudzu vines that have enveloped the hills around it swallowing homes cars rivers and hiding a terrible secret deeper still Colburn a junkyard sculptor who's returned to Red Bluff knows this pai. Coulter arrives in Red Bluff a declining Mississippi town in his scrappy flatbed truck his past is callingA family of sorts arrive at the same time Living well below the radar they are poverty stricken and distrustful The father figure a wild malevolent force drags the ‘the woman’ and ‘the boy’ helplessly in his wakeHow the newcomers rub up against the locals and how each individual story collides is at the heart of this tale A tale that lurches from the everyday to the darkly mystical We’re in familiar Michael Farris Smith country people don’t say much there’s an air of melancholy the action is gritty and there’s a jaded realism not too many laughsThe lonely town is surrounded by forest and Kudzu I had to look this up is used as a constant metaphor The unstoppable invasive vine whose heavy green leaf smothers everything in its path is pressing in from all directions and adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere and feeling of creeping doomCoulton is an urban artist metalworking discarded junk but this side of his character is never really examined or developed and this was part of the reason that for me Blackwood didn’t uite live up to Desperation Road my first Michael Farris Smith novelBlackwood is a short book and it seemed there was never uite enough time to fully build backstories relationships motives etc So much happens in each strand of the dramatic narrative that parts inevitably felt a bit rushed However I love MFS’s tough poetic writing and as usual there are some fine character studies and a plot that is pitch black and haunting Not his best maybe but still very good