Appalachian gothic with a touch of Bloodroot

By Kimberly Richardson

[singlepic id=134 w=320 h=240 float=left]Amy Greene is a storyteller. As obvious as that may sound, keep in mind that it is a goal that not every writer accomplishes. Many writers do write well but very few are actual storytellers; that is, they have the ability to weave people, places, and events into a mixture that will keep the readers wanting more. They give their blood to the story, and the result is more than just words. The novel Bloodroot is one such example; within the 291-page book is a story that most people have never heard of but are quickly drawn in after reading the first page. The readers are introduced to a variety of characters that are linked to one another through the main catalyst of the novel, a young woman by the name of Myra Jean Lamb, whose hair is blacker than midnight and eyes are the blue of Heaven. Myra causes the other characters to do rational and irrational things in their lives due to her ability of the Touch. She is a wild spirit; a being that can never be captured by anyone. She is like the wind, and all who try to subdue her become worse for the wear. Even her husband, John Odom, realizes his mistake too late in trying to keep her submissive to his whiskey-soaked ways. He beats her, drags her by the hair to the storage shed for several days of lockup, and she still finds a way to leave him that involves the chopping off of several of his fingers.

Bloodroot Mountain is a place filled with wise and wild women and men, and destinies that, once cast upon the wind, cannot be altered. Love blooms like the bloodroots on the mountain, and it is just as poisonous to those who are daring enough to feel the power behind it. The people that live in this area are simple folks and yet their words ring with something deeper than what most of us could hope for. Their eyes give a glimpse of life decorated with moonshine, raven black hair, curses, and cruel yet loving Nature.

Author Amy Greene lives in the foothills of East Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, a place that is also her birth home; one can tell just how much the area means to her through this novel. This is one of the few novels that could be orally passed down from generation to generation, keeping the history of a family alive with more than waterlogged journals.

Bloodroot is an oral novel, and Amy Greene does a phenomenal job of it; you can hear the muffled voice of Doug Cotter speaking about his love for Myra and how it will never be satisfied. Myra’s grandmother, Byrdie Lamb, is a proud woman who knows of her granddaughter’s coming while viewing a myrtle-induced fire one night; her voice speaks with intent and lessons learned of herself, her wild daughter Clio, and Myra. We also get to hear from Myra’s twin children, Johnny and Laura, born with their mother’s likeness and wildness and how they must adapt to their life after their mother is locked up in an asylum, as well as the author and wanderer Ford Hendrix who has the power of visions, seeing his own life strand intermingled in Myra’s and her son’s lives. Bloodroot is not to be trifled with, for its roots are deeper than we imagine. The blood red sap flows down the mountain, and those who come into contact with it are irrevocably affected.

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