Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not Flesh Nor Feathers, by Cherie Priest

Not Flesh Nor Feathers
Cherie Priest
Tor: 2007

With her third and presumably final Eden Moore offering, Cherie Priest says goodbye to Chattanooga. Not Flesh Nor Feathers opens with two children escaping from a flood in Chattanooga. While they are trapped in the attic of the old armory they hear sounds of...things...below them, something trying to get out. They survive, of course, and grow up to be Eden’s mother and aunt, but the memory remains and informs the rest of Not Flesh Nor Feathers.

This is important, the memory of the things that came out of the water decades prior.

As a reminder, Eden Moore can communicate with ghosts. She’s had a couple of previous ghost related adventures which were detailed in Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Wings to the Kingdom (two excellent novels, I might add). Now, in her mid 20’s, Eden is ready to move out of her aunt’s house and into an apartment of her own. The place she has chosen is down by the river. Lu, her aunt, is adamant that Eden not move there because the river might flood. Lu doesn’t explain her true fear, though, about the things that came out of the water from the last flood. Eden is warned by one of the town crazies that the new construction has stirred something that shouldn’t be disturbed, and that some of the transients have disappeared. Nick, a reporter we first met in Wings to the Kingdom, asks Eden to come with him to the Read House because of increased activity by legendary local ghost, the White Lady.

Things have begun, the rains are about to come, and the Tennessee River will rise.

Unlike Four and Twenty Blackbirds or Wings to the Kingdom, Cherie Priest has made Chattanooga downright scary this time out. Most of the action of Not Flesh Nor Feathers takes place during the flooding of the Tennessee River. Using the word “Flooding” does not entirely capture how high the river rises, how much of Chattanooga is covered, and just how frightening Chattanooga becomes. Priest does an outstanding job with description in this novel, with the fear of the ghosts, with the fear of the residents, with the fear of what comes out from the water, what the construction and the flooding has disturbed. Cherie Priest blends local history with a nearly iconic use of setting that makes the Chattanooga so real we can smell it, we can taste the river and the fear.

Not Flesh Nor Feathers reads as if Priest is saying goodbye. During the writing of the novel Priest moved from Tennessee to Oregon, but the combination of the flood and the destruction caused by the flood and just how Eden Moore speaks about the city in the novel really get the point across that this is goodbye. Not Flesh Nor Feathers closes the trilogy on Eden Moore, though as a reader who has been captivated by Eden Moore and Chattanooga, I hope that Priest decides to revisit Eden, if not Chattanooga.

I suspect this is why writers work in series (even loose series of related novels), because the readers fall so much in love with the characters and the setting that they are willing to buy more and more of these books. Creatively Cherie Priest may need to step away from Eden Moore, and if so, Not Flesh Nor Feathers was a perfect way to close the door on Eden and Tennessee.

Oh. Did I mention the exploding zombies? Not Flesh Nor Feathers has zombies, folks! How much better can this get?

Previous Reviews:
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Wings to the Kingdom


Anonymous said...

Haha! Thanks, man. I really appreciate it. Though FWIW -- I moved to Seattle, not Oregon; and I wrapped up Eden like I did because Tor only commissioned a trilogy. There's always the chance I'll go back and write more, but at the moment, that's not on the table. :)

Joe said...

Crap! I knew it was the Pacific NW, but I just had Oregon stuck in my head. Must be watching too much track and hearing about Galen Rupp lately.

Sorry about that! :)

It seemed like the perfect way to close the door while still leaving room for a new story if the inspiration (or contract) hit.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it's no big thing. I just figured, since I'd wandered by, that I'd clarify :)

And I'm glad you felt that way about the ending. That's exactly what I was shooting for -- an ending to one set of stories, with the implication that they might go on, elsewhere.

Somehow said...

I am loving this book and now i don't want to finish the last few chapters because I don't want Eden Moore to go away. I love her. She's so strong and funny.

Somehow said...

I finished this story and it made me cry. I hope Eden Moore comes back. She was funny and strong it has been great following her story.