I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy
Published by Roc on August 2, 2016
Source: my own shelves
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Blood Trade, Kicking It: These Boots are Made for Stalking, Blood in Her Veins, Mercy Blade, Shadow Rites, Bloodring, Seraphs, Dark Queen, Shattered Bonds, Black Arts, Broken Soul, Dark Heir, Cold Reign, Curse on the Land, Flame in the Dark
First in the Soulwood series, a spinoff from the Jane Yellowrock series (9.25), and revolving around Nell Ingram who lives just outside Knoxville, Tennessee.
Soulwood stands on its own; you don’t need to read the Jane Yellowrock series…although I do recommend it! If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Soulwood books on my website.
I love this series! There is so much I adore: Nell being self-supporting, the connection she has with her land — and all it tells her(!), and of course the paranormal aspects, *grin*.
That Nell is a bargainer, lol. We know what she’s thinking and feeling because Hunter uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Nell’s perspective. And Hunter uses this to set the series up for Nell to work with PsyLED. Yep, our Nell is strong. She can protect herself and support herself against long odds. And she’s a reader.
She is so strong, in spite of her horrible past. She’s also quite careful and not concerned about being rude, which makes it even more fun! She won’t put up with crap from anyone…including the vampires or Rick, lol. It is a difficult adjustment for her, going from only being with herself to a whole team of people, intent on getting what they want. Outsiders with different viewpoints and customs from what Nell was brought up with.
John was/is an interesting character, so protective of Nell, ensuring her future. So unlike what one would expect from a churchman. Then Nell discovers a whole different side to John’s protection.
That Hunter has quite the imagination what with Nell’s disposal of Ephraim and what happens to him with her land. It includes some, um, “interesting” results for Nell. Plant-y ones. Ones that give rise to the Vampire Tree.
It’s an interesting dialect the church people use, and frustrating to read. It does make them easy to identify in the outside world. Meanwhile, some members of the church aren’t too happy with the state of things. Thank god.
Nell’s plan, her reason for staying on her land, is all about family, despite what she believes about them. And again…cooperation between law enforcement agencies just ain’t happening. What’s with that?
There’s plenty of action and excitement with Nell a completely different character from others I’ve read and whom I adore. She’s terrified of anyone finding out what she does. To balance this out, Nell gains a lot of firsts: a man apologizes to her, a man does dishes and sets the table, women have positions of power, and so much more.
This offer is a chance for Nell to matter, to gain support.
When Jane Yellowrock first came to Soulwood, she made promises. Promises that weren’t kept, which led to the churchmen invading Nell’s land and threatening her, killing her dogs. Three times they did this.
Now that promise is finally being kept, but is it too late? Even as Nell discovers an unexpected conspiracy in the church?
…Nell Ingram‘s land. She’s a widow, thank god, who lives off her very interactive land and has a green magic that can sense what’s happening on it, make things grow. Jane believes Nell is yinehi similar to a type of fae. She has three cats: Jezzie, Cello, and Torquil who succumbed to Paka’s presence. Her three dogs (originally John’s) had been murdered. John Ingram, a more tolerant churchman, had been her husband, until he died. Leah had been John’s primary wife; Brenda Bell and Leota had been his second and third wives.
God’s Cloud of Glory Church was…
…founded around 1823 and is a cult where men married multiple women, took some in concubinage, and where women had no rights. Ernest “Jackie” Jackson, Jr, the preacher who took over from his pedophile father with the same interest in young girls . Havilah and Henrietta Sanders were two of Jackie’s concubines. Brother Ephraim and Elder Ebenezer preach at Nell about her wanton ways. Joshua Purdy, who’d thought he was John’s heir, wants to court Nell. Boaz Jenkins has two wives, Elizabeth and Mary (who used to be Nell’s friend), and he hates paranormals, wanting to burn Nell at the stake. An Ingles owns a warehouse.
Micaiah is Nell’s father and a deacon. His wives include Mama Cora (Nell’s mother), Mama Carmel, and Mama Grace. Nell’s sisters include Priscilla who’s married to Caleb Campbell who has a first wife, Fredi, Priscilla’s best friend; Esther has an intended, Jedidiah Whisnut (Bascomb is his dog); Judith; Mindy, a.k.a. Mud, is like Nell; Phoebe who also refused to marry Ephraim; and, Idabel. Samuel is Nell’s brother with a tracker springer spaniel named Chrystal, and he’s getting married. Zebulon; Amos; Rufus; Rethel; Narvin; Rudolph; Zeke; Ethan; and, Harry are half-brothers. Maude, a.k.a. maw-maw, grandma, wanted Nell proven to be a witch. The Hamiltons were townies who escaped the church and are cousins to the Nicholsons. Everett Lisby is one of the Nicholson allies.
Sister Erasmus, a wife of Elder TJ Aden who acts as judge in disputes, bottles her own wine. Mama Mary is another Aden wife. Douglas is Erasmus’ son who lives on the second floor with his wives, Mharvy and Lisa; Mary’s son, Larry, and his wife, Colleen, live on the third floor; Laurie, Joelle, Barbara, and Carol are unmarried daughters. The Cohen sisters. Some of the boys who try to invade are a Cohen, a couple of Purdys, a Campbell, Nadab and Nahum Stubbins (he has a bully of a son, Jael), a Lambert, and a McCormick. Simons Sr and Jr Dawson had been backsliders. The Avrils and Bascoms took back their girls.
The punishment house was where women and children were sent to “mend their ways”. The Peays’ and Vaughns’ farms border Nell’s property. Clarence Vaughn is friendly enough. Fredericka is another Vaughn.
The founder was Quincy S Jackson and his four wives; Ralph A Emery and his three wives; the Stubbenses; the Edens; the Mcormicks; the Pullims; the Gramours; the MacMackins; Roxbury T Bantin and his two wives; Jormungand M Sanders and his four wives; and, Elias S Dawson, his three wives, and many, many children.
The Human Speakers of Truth (HST) is…
…a terrorist organization that is anti-anyone not human. Johnson Campbell has a bank account in the Turks. Oliver Smithy is an HST organizer. The kidnappers included “Perry Mason” and “Paul Drake“.
Kristy is a librarian and a gardener who became friends with Nell. Harvey is Kristy’s husband. Her grandfather is a Vietnam war vet who has trouble sleeping. Mrs Stevens, a.k.a. Old Lady Stevens, who broke away from the church, has a PayPal account that takes in the churchwomen’s and Nell’s noncash Internet transactions.
Ming of Glass is the Master of the City of Knoxville. Yummy is the vampire who had worked with Jane in Blood in Her Veins: “Off the Grid”, 0.5 (7.9).
Thad Rankin owns Rankin Replacements and Repairs, building contractors. His son, Thaddeus Jr, a.k.a. Deus, is the fifth generation to be working the family business. They worship at the friendly First Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion.
The kidnapped girls include Rachel Ames, Shanna Schendel, Anne Rindfliesch, and Mira Clayton, who’s good with orchids. Mira’s mother is Claretta Clayton who had been turned into a vampire in the Civil War.
…the Psychometry Law Enforcement Division that reports to Homeland Security, the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, CIA, the Dod, the Secret Service, and the FBI with Clarence Lester Woods the director, a former special forces Green Beret. Special Agent Rick LaFleur, a werepanther who can’t shift, is part of a newly formed unit of paranormals, the PsyLED Paranormal Investigative Unit #18, and will be based in Knoxville — after the hotel gets trashed. Paka is…his mate? and another werepanther. Pea is a grindylow whose sole purpose is to prevent were-taint from affecting humans. Rick’s team includes Occam, a wereleopard who escaped a carnival; T. Laine, a moon witch with lots of unfinished university degrees; JoJo, an African-American, is the token human; and, Tandy is an empath, covered in Lichtenberg figures. Brute is stuck as a white werewolf (Raven Cursed, JY 4) and still in New Orleans. Sharon is a crime scene tech.
The Training Facility for the Psychometry Law Enforcement Division, a.k.a. Spook School, is where agents go to train. Dr Smythe (a woman!) runs the school.
R. Thomas “Roxy” Benton IV is in charge of the Knoxville FBI.
Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee vampire hunter, had approached Nell for help in Blood in Her Veins: “Off the Grid”. Secret City is the name of the underground testing and R&D part of the US government. Gwyllgi (gwee-shee) are shapeshifting dogs.
The Cover and Title
The cover is wild with greens and yellow swirling around an uncharacteristic Nell, her long deep brown-red hair lifted in the breeze, a softened woods behind her. There’s a yellow border on the left with blackwork in the shape of connecting pointed ovals. The yellow is repeated in the author’s name at the top. All the rest of the text is white with an info blurb immediately below the name. The title is large just beneath that, above Nell’s head. To the right of her head is the series info with a testimonial at the bottom.
The title is the more that Nell learns about her powers and the Blood of the Earth.