Books,  Reviews

In the Hour of Crows

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Where the Crawdads Sing meets Practical Magic in this engrossing and atmospheric debut that follows young Weatherly Wilder as she uses her unique gift to solve her cousin’s mysterious murder and prove her own innocence, set in the beautiful wilds of Appalachia and imbued with magic realism.

In a small town in rural Georgia, Appalachian roots and traditions still run deep. Folks paint their houses blue to keep the spirits way. Black ferns grow, it’s said, where death will follow. And Weatherly Wilder’s grandmother is a local Granny Witch, relied on for help delivering babies, making herbal remedies, tending to the sick—and sometimes serving up a fatal dose of revenge when she deems it worthy. Hyper-religious, she rules Weatherly with an iron fist; because Weatherly has a rare and covetable gift: she’s a Death Talker. Weatherly, when called upon, can talk the death out of the dying; only once, never twice. But in her short twenty years on this Earth this gift has taken a toll, rooting her to the small town that only wants her around when they need her and resents her backwater ways when they don’t—and how could she ever leave, if it meant someone could die while she was gone?

Weatherly’s best friend and cousin, Adaire, also has a gift: she’s a Scryer; she can see the future reflected back in a dark surface, usually her scrying pan. Right before she’s hit and in a bicycle accident, Adaire saw something unnerving in the pan, that much Weatherly knows, and she is certain this is why the mayor killed her cousin—she doesn’t believe for a moment that it was an accident. But when the mayor’s son lays dying and Weatherly, for the first time, is unable to talk the death of him, the whole town suspects she was out for revenge, that she wouldn’t save him. Weatherly, with the help of Adaire’s spirit, sets out to prove her own innocence and find Adaire’s killer, no matter what it takes.

Synopsis source: Goodreads


Genre(s): Magical Realism, Paranormal, Gothic Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
HB&W Rating: 4
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Expected Publication: June 4, 2024

This book has all the qualities I look for in a good southern gothic: magical/paranormal elements, murder, and a pervading sense of doom. It is set in a small town in Appalachian Georgia, where superstition mixes with religion and the good ol’ boys rule. In Black Fern, Georgia, a family with certain peculiarities lives on the fringes of society, feared and reviled but still needed by people for their gifts. Weatherly’s family still abides by the old ways, and the town looks down on them for it, until they need them, that is. Until they need her.

I was born in the woods in the hour of crows, when the day is no longer but the night is not yet.

There are some triggering topics like child abandonment, child abuse, mental illness, death and bias, but I appreciate how everything was resolved in the end. I liked Weatherly’s voice, sometimes acerbic and sarcastic, but she has a good heart and it shows. I was drawn into the story and kept guessing right up to the point that Elmendorf wanted me to be before showing me how everything would come together.

I was talking to my almost 13 year old about this because I think he’d really like it. He was very interested in the description of the family and their talents. That got me thinking of whether I would say this is appropriate for him and I think that it would be with the exception of Weatherly’s coping mechanism. I found the (on page but not graphic) sex scene with her and Billy to be superfluous to the story and could easily have been omitted.

I will say that I hope this gets another good pass through the editing process (maybe two) to fix various formatting issues and some weird turns of phrase that were a bit confusing and not at all how I think people actually speak. It was more like she started to say something one way, then re-wrote it another way without deleting everything she was replacing. A bit confounding to read at times.

Still, I really liked the mystery, the atmosphere, the characters, and the way everything came together in the end. If you enjoy southern gothic thrillers, give this one a read!

Thank you to Mira Books and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Until next time,

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