The Hum and the Shiver

Alex Bledsoe
The Hum and the Shiver Cover

The Hum and the Shiver


After suffering a nearly fatal injury while stationed in the Middle East, Bronwyn Hyatt returns to her home in Tennessee. Bronwyn is much more than a soldier, however. She is a pure-blood Tufa, a mysterious magical clan that has resided in the Appalachian mountains for centuries, and now she must face her obligations as a First Daughter of the Tufa.

The essential idea of this story, based upon Celtic mythology, is fascinating. The Tuatha Dé Danann were supernatural, angelic-like beings who came to Ireland and fought for dominance against the inhabitants. Though they were at first successful they were eventually defeated and rather than leave Ireland they chose to remain, living underground in caves and burrows. The Irish believed it was bad luck to call the Tuatha Dé Danann by their proper name and instead used various euphemisms, such as hill folk, the gentry, and wee folk. Over time, one of these euphemisms - fair folk - was shortened to the more commonly recognized "fairies."

In The Hum and the Shiver, descendents of these "fairies" came to reside in the hills of Tennessee and became known as the Tufa. This is a very clever idea but unfortunately it was poorly executed. The mythology is not explained, the history of the Tufa is murky with many unanswered questions, and the magical skills the Tufa employ border on silliness (like obscure hand gestures to invoke spells).

In addition to the weak backstory, I found there were multiple problems with the book. The writing quality is mediocre, the characters are unlikable and underdeveloped, and the plot is riddled with holes. Plus, there is excessive sexual content (both implied and explicit), general vulgarity, and foul language. The overall impression I had was that this was a book that might have been written by a 16 year old boy who receives Bs in English class.

From the pen of a more gifted author, The Hum and the Shiver could have been extraordinary. As written, though, I found it hugely disappointing.