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Abandoned by Booklikes

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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Almost Perfect Collection of Short Stories

Blackbird House - Alice Hoffman

The only reason why I didn't give this collection 5 stars is that not all of the stories grabbed me the same way as "The Red Garden." Also though there is the linkage of the Blackbird House, we have so many loose endings with the people who come and live in that house. I loved "The Red Garden" because many of the people in those stories popped up as young children and then as adults or were referred to in some way so you know what happened to them. That said, I thought the magical realism of the blackbird that turned white, and the young boy who lost him was sad and a perfect book to read around Halloween. 


"The Edge of the World" (5 stars)-The first story tells you how the Blackbird House was built by the Hadley family and the tragedy that left Cora Hadley alone planting her garden and wishing for the return of her husband and two sons after a disastrous sea voyage. We also get to see how the youngest son, Issac came across a blackbird that refuses to leave his side. 


"The Witch of Truro" (4.5 stars)-A young woman named Ruth who has a magical way with cows loses her father and mother in a fire. The young woman is thought to be a witch (due to her red shoes) and is eventually left to live with a young man who went to see and was almost killed by a fish. Something ties them together. Besides Blackbird house, we also get to hear how a tree that only bears scarlet/red fruit came to be planted here. The tree is referenced in some of the stories that follows.


"The Token" (3 stars)-This is one of the few short stories that follows what happened to a previous characters. We have Ruth's oldest daughter in this one narrating the story of what happened to her mother after the death of her father. It was a solid story I thought, I just got bored by it and Ruth.


"Insulting the Angels" (4 stars)-This one has no ties to anyone in the previous stories. It follows a young man named Larkin who comes across an older woman named Lucinda Parker who is left with no choices. I don't want to spoil this, but I was surprised at how Hoffman handled this and the ending with Larkin and how he came to be the next owner of Blackbird House.


"Black is the Love of my True Love's Hair" (3 stars)-So this was another story that follows someone through two stories in this collection. We have a young girl named Violet who has a birthmark covering her face that leaves her feeling ugly and unwanted. When a young man comes to the town to investigate a possible monster, she finds herself drawn to him and focused on ways to keep him there. 


"Lionheart" (3 stars)-I thought this was an interesting story. Violet is now married and has 7 children. Her favorite is her oldest though that she has named Lion. Violet loves Lion as much the same way she loved his father. I think this story is an interesting look at the secrets that families keep, I just though that this one and the next story should have been combined. The ending of this one kind of falls flat.


"The Conjurer's Handbook" (5 stars)-Lion's son, Lion Jr. and how he meets a woman in one of the darkest places after War World II and how this woman (Dorey) has some magic of her own. Lion becomes obsessed with Dorey and marries her though frets how his grandmother Violet is going to take to her. When Lion and Dorey return to Blackbird House though, Violet is focused on putting Dorey through trials to see if she deserves her grandson.


"The Wedding of Snow and Ice" (5 stars)-This one has a definitive date in it, 1957. A new family lives in Blackbird House, the Farrells and you get to see once again the secrets a family can keep about themselves and their neighbors.


"India" (3.5 stars)-This one didn't really grab me the way the other stories did. India follows a young woman who narrates how her family came to live in Blackbird House. She and her brother are both desperate to get away from their parents who are into living off the land and not working. It leaves their children often hungry and cold though. I think in the end you are supposed to think about how you never really know anyone, but I thought the parents in this story were kind of terrible.


"The Pear Tree" (3 stars)-Another family, the Stanleys have bought the Blackbird House and use it as a summer house. It's a sad story and I wish I had liked it more, it just didn't grab me at all. 


"The Summer Kitchen" (3.5 stars)-This story is one that follows the last family I think that will live in Blackbird House. Sam and Katherine buy this home after dealing with their daughter Emma who is recovering from her bought of cancer and chemotherapy. Katherine is worried that she and Sam are falling apart from each other, but the house draws them in. Having the home as a summer getaway though draws Katherine closer to Emma, but farther apart from her son Walker. I get why Walker is a bit of a jerk, I just didn't like him at all in this story. 


"Wish You Were Here" (4.5 stars)-This follows Emma all grown up and divorced. Her parents give her Blackbird House and she thinks about selling it. However, something about the house calls to her and brings her back to a sense of her self she hasn't felt for years.