All Things Bright and Strange

All Things Bright and Strange

In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future...

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Title:All Things Bright and Strange
Author:James Markert
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All Things Bright and Strange Reviews

  • Paul

    James Markert serenaded me with the vernacular of country folk of the Deep South. Post World War 1. Enter the days of prohibition and bootlegging. Words danced off their lips with a Southern Charm that filled me with a longing for the times. The prose flowed across the pages like a gentle stream. It held me mesmerized. I was alive and kickin' in the quiet town of Bellhaven, South Carolina. Kindly pass the bowl of hoppin' John. Mighty glad to be there. From the outset, the characters were exquisi

    James Markert serenaded me with the vernacular of country folk of the Deep South. Post World War 1. Enter the days of prohibition and bootlegging. Words danced off their lips with a Southern Charm that filled me with a longing for the times. The prose flowed across the pages like a gentle stream. It held me mesmerized. I was alive and kickin' in the quiet town of Bellhaven, South Carolina. Kindly pass the bowl of hoppin' John. Mighty glad to be there. From the outset, the characters were exquisitely drawn in striking detail. What an uplifting pleasure.

    World War 1 veteran Ellsworth Newberry returned to his hometown. Bellhaven. Anyway, most of him did. His left leg remained in France complements of a German mortar round. As if things weren't bad enough, his wife Eliza had perished in a fire just before his departure for the war. At the time, it seemed like the patriotic thing to do. Now, not so much. Bitter and broken, Ellsworth struggles through life from day to day. All his reasons to live - gone. Kept a pistol close at hand. Only needed one bullet.

    Word got around about a hidden Chapel in the woods. Within walking distance nestled just outside of town. Everyone was inescapably drawn to it. Moths to the light. Townsfolk claimed it held some kind of mystical, spiritual power. Everyone who entered came under its entrancing spell one way or another. Some could get in touch with loved ones long deceased. Others would find a healing inner peace. A different experience for everyone. Many visited the site everyday. Might this have been too much of a good thing? Change was in the air. Not the kind anyone could possibly prepare for.

    My thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson--FICTION for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

  • ☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆

    I highly enjoyed this read! Not only is it based it South Carolina and I am a South Carolinian, it was very mysterious and sinister! I loved the way the characters interacted with each other and the overall characterisation. The only thing I wish was a tad different was it was slow in the beginning. I loved the mixed elements of this story as well. The mystery was highly enjoyable, making this book a suspenseful ride I am glad I didn’t miss out on!

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

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  • Vikki P

    I received an e-ARC of All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

    PLOT

    With a stunning plot and a really ethereal feel to the writing, All Things Bright and Strange really aces it in the writing aspect. The first thing that struck me as interesting about the book was that it really made me understand the effect of war on people, as it is set in a time of wars. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a monster who doesn’t know how horrifi

    I received an e-ARC of All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

    PLOT

    With a stunning plot and a really ethereal feel to the writing, All Things Bright and Strange really aces it in the writing aspect. The first thing that struck me as interesting about the book was that it really made me understand the effect of war on people, as it is set in a time of wars. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a monster who doesn’t know how horrific war is. Its just that the book made it seem so real and so painful and I really did sympathize with the war veterans described in the book.

    As for the supernatural side, I did find the description of the conflict between the religious leaders of the town slightly strange, but other than that the descriptions of the “magical chapel” and its effect on the town were magnificent. The whole concept of a town driven to madness because of “supernatural occurrences” was fantastically done.

    CHARACTERS

    As a character, Ellsworth contributed well to the story but he wasn’t really my favorite protagonist in the beginning of the book. I found his story slightly hard to follow towards the beginning and I do wish more was explained about his wife Eliza.

    Overall, All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert gets 4 stars from me!

  • Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog:

    “This town is different. You’ll be welcomed here.”

    Black and white alike, side by side, dancing together- can it be? Can Bellhaven truly be real? Ellsworth is prepared to die, ravaged by the war, broken by the loss of his wife, why shouldn’t he end things with his Smith & Wesson? Anne Belle Roper won’t let him, it seems, bringing him breakfast and the care he needs. Ellsworth is too young to feel and look so old. He will never be a profession

    via my blog:

    “This town is different. You’ll be welcomed here.”

    Black and white alike, side by side, dancing together- can it be? Can Bellhaven truly be real? Ellsworth is prepared to die, ravaged by the war, broken by the loss of his wife, why shouldn’t he end things with his Smith & Wesson? Anne Belle Roper won’t let him, it seems, bringing him breakfast and the care he needs. Ellsworth is too young to feel and look so old. He will never be a professional baseball player, never be a father, never again know Eliza’s love. He puts the blame on the strange boy with no last name. There is something special about a little boy named Raphael, aside from his gifted piano playing skills. The beautiful soul has kept Anna Belle sane while the men were away at war. Cardinals are hanging around, strange things are happening, but Ellsworth can only remember the misery of his stillborn son Erik and his wife Eliza. The town is changing and if he can stop himself from committing suicide, he just might have to get to the bottom of things.

    Why is everything blooming? What does the once hidden chapel have to do with everything that is happening? Is the healing floor good or evil? This magical place, can it be trusted? Just who or what do you pray to there, beautiful or not, is it safe? “Beautiful don’t always mean safe, is all.” Ellsworth remembers his mother’s words. How are they talking to the dead, is it possible?

    The people of Bellhaven are turning to the chapel far more than they should. Ellsworth has woken from his depressed state, but can he save the people as they turn against each other? What are the secrets of the chapel? Who is more consumed by evil thoughts than Ellsworth, wanting nothing more than to kill himself after all his dreams turned to ash? What is going on with the preachers?

    This is a strange supernatural tale dusted with the wounds war leaves behind, it is about faith and evil. Will Ellsworth be able to save them all with the help of his dear friend and Raphael? Should he trust in Raphael? Eerie and maybe not so beautiful a place, or is it?

    Publication Date: January 30, 2018

    Thomas Nelson Fiction

  • Caroline

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley

    The town of Bellhaven is damaged.

    Ellsworth, mentally and physically ruined by his experiences fighting on the frontline, is going to take his own life.

    Along with his ragtag couple of friends, Alvin and Omar, who were also injured during the war, Ellsworth lives a sad existence. Cooped up in his house he used to share with his very beloved wife, Eliza, who died in a fire a few years ago, Elsworth is drinking himself into a stupo

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley

    The town of Bellhaven is damaged.

    Ellsworth, mentally and physically ruined by his experiences fighting on the frontline, is going to take his own life.

    Along with his ragtag couple of friends, Alvin and Omar, who were also injured during the war, Ellsworth lives a sad existence. Cooped up in his house he used to share with his very beloved wife, Eliza, who died in a fire a few years ago, Elsworth is drinking himself into a stupor in the hope he will forget. Ellsworth is haunted by both Eliza’s death and the horrors he saw on the frontline which he cannot erase from his memory and constantly haunt him in his everyday life. After the initial prologue, the book picks up with Ellsworth about to commit suicide. Rudely he gets interrupted by a cardinal bird, a bird the town associated with lost loved ones. We follow Ellsworth as strange happenings in the town coax him out of his house and back into town life.

    The woods on the border of the town have long been avoided by the townsfolk as stories of witches and evil spirits have circulated for generations. But when Rafael, a curious black lad who Eliza rescued, goes into the woods having not spoken for two years and emerges happy and talking, the town soon rediscover a chapel hidden in there where the voices of dead loved ones can be heard. The townsfolk become addicted to going into the woods to hear their loved ones but their visits feed a power that is growing stronger by the day. Divides amongst the varied religious community appear and the town inhabitants start to act without morals. Ellsworth must use his leadership skills to unite to town, put differences aside, and ultimately conquer the evil that is lurking in the woods.

    I generally have mixed feelings about this book. The core story was very interesting and engaging. I was gripped and excited to find out what was going to happen, but as the book progressed it seemed to regress into quite a silly shootout scene then when the spirits do emerge from the chapel, I found the demonic presences that were made up of birds to be wholly un-scary.

    However, as an English person I loved getting a sense of the 1920s in the South. I was also struck with how well the book empathises with the post-traumatic stress of the war veterans. Alvin who shoots his gun as a jerk reaction thinking it is the Germans coming to get him. Ellsworth who so vividly still sees the horrors he saw on the battlefield and feels the guilt that some of his friends who followed him to war never returned to Bellhaven. I also thoroughly liked the bit about the four angels uniting to defeat the evil.

    I’d definitely recommend the book, but I think it had a lot more potential to explore the supernatural aspect of the woods than it eventually did. The build-up was good but the climax was disappointing.

  • Karen

    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review.

    Ellsworth Newberry is the unofficial leader of a small, southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina. But having returned from war disabled, he just wants to hide in his house and forget the world. Then they find a mysterious chapel in the woods and evil 'comes in all forms'.

    The story was all over the place, choppy and difficult to follow. I couldn't get a grasp on any of the characters.

    2.5 ☆

  • Scarlett

    Um, definitely not what I was expecting from this book at all.

    feels like it has a thousand characters and about the same number of elaborated back-stories. That is why I feel this book was struggling to reach cohesion and well-rounded message. Is it a mystery? A thriller? A religious, mythical satire? I don't know and I really didn't care in the end. I didn't feel like there was any point to the story and don't get me started on the ending.

    People of a little town,

    Um, definitely not what I was expecting from this book at all.

    feels like it has a thousand characters and about the same number of elaborated back-stories. That is why I feel this book was struggling to reach cohesion and well-rounded message. Is it a mystery? A thriller? A religious, mythical satire? I don't know and I really didn't care in the end. I didn't feel like there was any point to the story and don't get me started on the ending.

    People of a little town, conveniently called Bellhaven, discover a chapel in the woods. This “little piece of heaven” is healing and bringing peace to everyone who goes there, but at a price. They are losing control over themselves and they become addicted to this serene feeling of happiness and connection to their lost ones. I went into this book expecting a meaningful tale about the power and deception of religion, how dangerous it can be and so on. I got an action-packed disconnected plot.

    Our main character Ellsworth Newberry, was depicted as a dominant and guiding figure, unofficial sheriff of Bellhaven, and he was the one who discovered the bad ways of church-goers. He lost a leg in the war, his wife passed away, so it's no wonder he is grumpy and negative. But there is a difference between a likeable grumpy old man (like Ove from now popular

    and just plane Mr. Know-it-all who is rude and unkind. I didn't really buy his savior figure.

    Looking back over the time I spent reading this book, I get an intense feeling of dissatisfaction. Unimportant plot points; many long, slow parts where nothing happens, and even the more action-filled parts were not particularly interesting. Also, there was a confusing, probably symbolic-like number of birds that were mentioned, but I didn't feel like thinking about it.

    I got my e-book through NetGalley and I am very thankful for this reading opportunity.

  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    Published 30 Jan 2018, archived 1 March 2018. Thomas Nelson.

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