I enjoyed this book a lot, partially for reasons outside of the actual story. First – I love that to move the Elemental Masters series into America, the author decided to use national treasure Dolly Parton as inspiration, and that she dedicated the book to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The second is that I work with several people that live in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee (one of my company’s main campuses is in Chattanooga). I always thought it was a curiously named town, and it turns out, it was once two different towns, and Soddy was a Company town. You learn something every day.
Story-wise, I enjoyed this. Anna lives with her parents in Soddy – she’s always been sickly. Knowing what this series is about, I immediately figured she must be pretty strong in Earth-based powers, and having the mine nearby was poisoning her. Her mother has an older sister that’s been trying to get Anna to come to live with her for years, and when Anna’s father’s health starts to precipitously decline, he finally agrees to send her away. (There was no love lost between her father and Aunt Jinny.)
Jinny is a witchy-woman who’s living in a holler outside another mine town, but far enough away from the effects of the mine. She quickly realizes the extent of Anna’s power, and starts to train her. There are also neighbors about, including a local farm with an interesting eldest son, and the mysterious Jolene, who appears where she wills, and may or may not be Anna’s friend.
I really liked who Jolene actually is, and how that worked into the story. This is a quiet book – the action feels a little formulaic to bring about the set up that you’d expect, since this is based on a rather famous song. But I really appreciate the setting, and I think it fits well into this larger series.