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VINE VOICEon October 27, 2012
Years before he became a novelist, Alex Bledsoe wrote a series of short stories that, according to him, we would call Urban Fantasy, but predate the modern swath of novels in the genre. Now, Bledsoe has decided to polish and republish these stories in ebook format. This first volume in the series collects the first three stories together.

These are the tales of The Firefly Witch.

Tanna Woicistikoviski lives in a small town in Tennessee, a graduate student of psychology and parapsychology. She is also blind. However, when fireflies are present, or particularly strong psychic events, Tanna can see. She is also a witch of not inconsiderate talent and has a mission and drive to help people.

Our point of view and entry into the world of the Firefly is Ry Tully. With few exceptions, the point of view in the three stories is a first person narrative from Ry's point of view. Ry is not Wiccan, has no magical talent, and works for the local small-town paper. Thus, he provides a outsider's view into Tanna's world. And as his relationship develops and deepens with Tanna, we get to see how he reacts to Tanna's world.

The Chill in the Air Wakes the Ghosts off the Ground introduces us to Ry, and to Tanna, and how they first met.

In Lost and Found we do break the point of view of Ry, as Tanna and Ry encounter and deal with the first ghost ever to exist.

The Darren Stevens Club tells us the story of Tanna and Ry's handfasting, and the challenges of a Wiccan marriage in a small town in Tennessee, on both sides.

There is a bit of a bright cheerful naivete to the stories, something that the author alludes to in the introduction to the story collection. Its certainly not the same style as, say, The Sword-Edged Blonde or The Hum and the Shiver. It's my thought that Alex is wrong. These are not solid Urban Fantasy, but rather are much closer to the amorphous boundary between that genre and the genre of Paranormal Romance. The relations firmly follow the conventions of that genre, with HEA sort of endings. There are challenges and upsets in relationship between Tanna and Ry, but such challenges, as well as the situations they get themselves into, are always overcome.

Are they worth your time, money and energy? I read these three stories quickly, over lunch at a local Thai place, having none of my usual reading material available. I was charmed (and, frankly, surprised) by this side of Bledsoe's work. And yes, Alex, 15 years on, the writing in the three stories still holds up compared to your more recent work. I can see your growth as a writer, but many aspiring writers could only wish to write as well as you did, back then.
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on April 4, 2013
Aside from being a talented novelist, Alex Bledsoe can spin a yarn of the short variety, too. The Firefly Witch presents three short stories that feature a small-town reporter recounting how he met and fell in love with a witch. Bewitched it is not.

Ry is working on a story for the paper and is introduced to a blind woman named Tanna who studies parapsychology. He's smitten with her from the get-go, and she's quite taken with him as well, due in no small part to the fact that she sees him during their first meeting. It turns out her blindness is a unique condition, where her sight returns to her while near fireflies--hence the title of the stories. With each story, Ry and Tanna work together investigating paranormal occurrences, all while their romantic relationship evolves.

"The Chill in the Air Wakes the Ghosts in the Ground" kicks things off with their first encounter, as Ty is tasked with writing a story on the blind witch working at West Tennessee University. From there, she confides in him about her coven being blamed for some vandalism that's happened at one of the local cemeteries, and convinces him to help her find out who is responsible. A charming story, but with some rough patches in the dialogue, I thought.

"Lost and Found" introduces the viewpoint of Tanna by way of journal entries, as she and Ry investigate what she believes is the world's first ghost. This story was particularly interesting because of the premise of who the ghost might be and the history behind the person. The switching in viewpoint was a little distracting, jumping from Ry's first person narrative to Tanna's diary, but still a really good story to up the ante.

"The Darren Stevens Club" takes a little more personal approach to the characters and brings Ry even further into Tanna's spiritual world when a ghost manages to haunt her from the inside. Not exactly a showstopper, but this third story really helped solidify the universe in which Bledsoe is playing and forges the bond between the two characters.

A fascinating little fantasy romance series here, and there are even more stories released in three-packs that I see when I browsed the Kindle Store (I assume they're for sale with other online outlets, too), of which I've purchased the next collection. I like Bledsoe's writing and the way he deftly blends the magical and the mundane. These first three stories are earlier works and are a little rough around the edges compared to his most recent efforts, but they're still worth checking out.
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on May 16, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Tanna and Ry. Bledsoe proves, as always, to have a very creative imagination as well as skillful wordcraft. I particularly enjoyed the second story, as it includes a character from folklore who I have never before seen used in modern literature. I can't wait for the next installments of Tanna's tales!
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on December 8, 2012
This book was such a pleasant surprise. Since it was told from the male protagonist's perspective, I wasn't sure if I would connect to the female character (a blind witch who could only see on summer nights - when the fireflies were out), but I did. It was very fresh, well written and enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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on August 16, 2013
But these stories are junvenilia. The characters are flat. There is no sense of WHY the hero and heroine are attracted to each other, except she is beautiful. The witch is bitchy, especially in the introductory story. The stories move in jerks. I had several "huh? how did I get here" moments. When something needs explaining, the author introduces a new character who conveniently tells me what I need to know. Get his other stuff.
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on September 10, 2013
I loved The Hum and the Shiver and really hoped this book would open up a new motherlode of great reading. Alas, it is just plain embarrasing. The portrait of Wicca is just silly, perhaps appealing to 12 year old girls or maybe tittillating church ladies. Its not that the plot doesn't have potential, but this start killed any potential follow on.
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on March 19, 2013
The Firefly Witch stories are dear to me, partly because I first became acquainted with them through Mr. Bledsoe long before they were published or such a thing as an e-reader even existed. This first collection of tales allows fans of Bledsoe's to experience his earlier work and witness part of his evolution as a writer. This set of stories is relatively light-hearted, yet still manages to show depth in the characters and convey actual facts about Wicca. As always, he captures the tone of West Tennessee and small town life. If you have enjoyed Bledsoe's other series, you will likely be delighted by The Firefly Witch.
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on October 17, 2012
I read a few of the Firefly tales years ago--as well as a novel based on these characters--and never forgot them. I was beyond ecstatic when I discovered that Bledsoe was releasing some earlier stories about the down-to-earth Ry and his mysterious and charming partner Tanna.

Tanna is one of the most original and fascinating characters I've ever come across--a blind witch who can see through the eyes of fireflies. As a Pagan, I love how true these stories are, while at the same time appreciating the fantasy world that the author creates.

Truly magical, and highly recommended.
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on July 7, 2013
I really liked these stories and would have to say that my real disappoint about them, is that there will be no more. I liked Tanna the Firefly Witch and the whole idea of her becoming a Dr. in parapsychology and I also liked Ry as the narrator of the story. Please Mr. Bledsoe won't you write some more?
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on September 14, 2012
Enjoyable story - different from my usual choices. Nice change of pace. Took a chance and was pleased. Well written.
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