Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Eden Moore Series #1)

Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Eden Moore Series #1)

by Cherie Priest

Paperback(First Edition)

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Although she was orphaned at birth, Eden Moore is never alone. Three dead women watch from the shadows, bound to protect her from harm. But in the woods a gunman waits, convinced that Eden is destined to follow her wicked great-grandfather--an African magician with the power to curse the living and raise the dead.

Now Eden must decipher the secret of the ghostly trio before a new enemy more dangerous than the fanatical assassin destroys what is left of her family. She will sift through lies in a Georgian ante-bellum mansion and climb through the haunted ruins of a 19th century hospital, desperately seeking the truth that will save her beloved aunt from the curse that threatens her life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765313089
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 10/01/2005
Series: Eden Moore Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,162,949
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Four and Twenty Blackbirds was Cherie Priest's first novel, followed by Wings to the Kingdom, and Not Flesh Nor Feathers, completing her trilogy of Southern Gothic ghost stories featuring heroine Eden Moore. Priest is also the author of Fathom, Dreadnought and Boneshaker, which was nominated for a Nebula and Hugo Award, won the Locus Award for best science-fiction novel, and was named Steampunk Book of the Year by Born in Tampa, Florida, Priest earned her master's in rhetoric at the University of Tennessee. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Aric, and a fat black cat named Spain.

Read an Excerpt

I. Eden

"Draw me a picture of someplace you've been that you liked very much," Mrs. Patterson suggested, pronouncing each word with the firm, specific articulation peculiar to those who work with children. "It can be anyplace at all-an amusement park, a playground, a tree house or your bedroom. Maybe you went on vacation once and visited the beach. You could draw the ocean with seagulls and shells. Or maybe you went camping on the mountain. You might have gone down to the waterfall for a picnic, or up to Sunset Rock. Pick a place special to you, and when you're finished, we'll put your pictures up on the bulletin board in the hallway."

I cringed, staring down at the blank sheet of coarse cream paper. Before me was a plastic tub filled with fat, fruit-scented markers, ripe for the choosing. While the other kids at my table dove into a frenzy of scribbles I stalled for time, popping the lid off each color and sniffing for inspiration.

Red is for cherries. Purple is for grape. Green is for . . . I didn't recognize the scent.

But green is for . . . yes, green is for water.

I jammed the lid onto the back of the marker and began to scrawl a wide pool across the bottom half of the sheet. Green is for water. And for alligators. I picked up the yellow marker (supposed to be lemons, but smelled like detergent) and drew two periscope eyeballs poking up through the swirls. Then I outlined them with black (licorice) and drew a long snout with two bumps for nostrils.

Brown. Brown was chocolate.

I sketched tall, thin trees that reached up past the top of the page. And snakes. Brown is for snakes. Wrapped around one trunk I placed a spiraled serpent with a wide open mouth. I gave him a strawberry pink tongue shaped like a "Y".

But I was missing something. I chewed on my thumbnail and tapped the brown pen. A house. A brown house set on blocks for when the water rose too high, with a cherry red canoe tied to the front porch just in case. A brown chocolate house, made of flat boards with a sloping gray roof that let the fresh rain water run into a barrel. Gray is for . . . A gray roof.

And gray is for . . .

Gray is for . . .

Mrs. Patterson's hands fluttered into my vision. "My goodness, Eden. What a vivid picture you've made! Now where is this?"

"Gray is for ghosts!" I blurted out.

For a moment the other kids were quiet, but then a few began to giggle. The giggle traveled halfway around the room, then died of shame under our teacher's withering frown.

"Class," she addressed it as a warning. "Eden has drawn us a very good green swamp with alligators and snakes, and a house."

I sank down into my chair and repeated myself more softly. "And gray is for ghosts, Mrs. Patterson. I haven't put the ghosts in yet."

Mrs. Patterson understood. Small and frail, she was a shriveled and sweet black woman who'd emerged from retirement to figurehead my kindergarten class. She made cookies every night before she went to bed because she knew some of her kids didn't get any breakfast before school. She crocheted all twenty of us little sweaters during the winter and took us to the city pool for free all summer. She was simply kind, but all the same, she terrified me.

Not on purpose, of course. She wouldn't have scared me deliberately, but whenever I saw her tiny, wrinkled hands I thought of dead birds; and every time she breezed by my desk they were flapping their bony, naked wings.

I think my fear hurt her feelings, or perhaps she thought something terrible was going on at home for me to be so silent and frightened all the time; but all was normal in our household so far as normal goes. I was raised by my Aunt Louise and Uncle David. They had no children of their own, so it was just me and that was just fine.

Everything was fairly ordinary until I started school. Until then I'd never had much interest in doodling, finger-painting or any of the other sloppy activities of early childhood, but once I entered the hallowed halls of elementary school, people handed me crayons and watercolors at every turn. Suddenly there was construction paper, glitter glue, popsicle sticks, yarn and paste. We used ink to make thumbprint caterpillars and paper bags to make cartoon hand-puppets. We had sidewalk chalk to make Van Goghesque night scenes on black paper or hopscotch squares on the four-square courts outside. Our educators wanted us to expand our brains, to think outside the box-to look inside our gray-matter nooks and bring forth art. Most of the time, it was fun.

So although I was deathly afraid of Mrs. Patterson and her skinny, swift-moving hands, I sought her approval, and I wanted to fit in. I crafted the standard benign animals out of modeling clay and rainbow scenery from felts, and I usually got gold foil star stickers or smiley faces on these uniform endeavors. But anytime we had free-thought art projects things got iffy. Any time I had to delve too deep into my imagination I found myself confused and unnerved. The "someplace special" project was no exception.

When I was finally done, Mrs. Patterson dutifully tacked it up on our bulletin board with the rest, though she discretely sent it to the lower left corner.

When the classroom emptied for gym or for recess, I don't remember which, I lingered behind and stared at my creation with a morbid intrigue. My elderly teacher sent the class ahead with one of her colleagues and she stayed behind, letting the door quietly close us into privacy.

"Who are they?" she asked. "Who are the three gray ghosts looking through the trees? You didn't give them any faces."

I concentrated-tried hard to focus. I could hear their voices, sing-song and sad, but sometimes fierce. Sometimes demanding. Always close.

"Do you know who they are?" she asked again, the same non-threatening tone she always used on me, like I was a stray cat on the verge of fleeing before she could slip me some cream.

"They're . . . " the memory flitted fast, and was gone. "They're sisters who died. He killed them."

"That's very sad."

"No, it's very angry-they're angry he did that to them. They loved him and he killed them." The words fell across my lips, dropping down into a pile at my feet and accumulating there before I could make sense of them. "Now they stay in the swamp, because he cut them up and threw them into the water for the 'gators and the birds to pick apart. And their blood turned the green water black, but I didn't do that part because I don't like licorice."

"You don't like . . . oh. I see. The markers."

"Yes. The markers." My whisper trailed away to something less audible, and I realized how foolish I sounded. With a flash of paranoia I turned to her and almost took one of her scary bird hands, then changed my mind at the last moment and folded mine together, praying to her instead. "But you can't say anything to anyone. If you do, they'll send me to the pine trees, like they sent my mother, and you won't let them do that to me, will you, Mrs. Patterson?"

"No, Eden," she assured me after a perplexed pause. A quick light brightened her face for a moment but then her forehead wrinkled again. "No one's going to send you to the pine trees. No one's going to send you away."

Mrs. Patterson tried hard to understand, but how could she have known? I didn't know either, back then, that you're not supposed to remember those things at all, those traces of the lives you've had before; but I've carried them with me as long as I can recall. Sometimes they rise out to meet me in subtle ways-in the gentle fears and convictions that old ghosts bring when they haunt you from the inside out. But sometimes they manifest in visions, in nightmares, or in kindergarten art projects.

I went back to drawing bubble-gum butterflies and marshmallow puppies. Mrs. Patterson invited the social services people to come and observe me, but I put on a good show. I could give them what they wanted. Eventually she gave up trying to corner me and seemed to accept the undercurrent of madness that ran beneath my crayon creations.

But once in awhile the three ghost women would cry, and I'd find myself inserting their six searching eyes into plastic-wrap windows, or cotton ball clouds, or watercolor trees.

I wanted to make sure they could see me.

Table of Contents

1The Changing of the Guard1
2Defining Success15
3The Rules of the Game22
4Indie, Major or DIY28
5Organizations and Networking36
6Setting Up Success40
7Licensing Your Music for Film/TV56
8Music Publishing71
9Publicity, Marketing, and Promotion78
10The Pitch100
12The Online Wars113
13Retail and Direct Sales119
14House Concerts129
15The Age Barrier132
16Crossing Over to Film, Books and Beyond135
17The Long Ride Down137
18Straight Talk on DIY143
19End Game164

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Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Eden Moore Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
PhyllisJ More than 1 year ago
Pulled me in from the first page and kept me there until I finished the book. I liked it so much I went ahead and ordered the next two books in the Eden Moore series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I came upon Ms. Priest by accident and was instantly interested being from Chattanooga myself. That it was gothic horror cinched it. From the first chapter I was pulled into a world, where I almost felt like I was talking with a friend, being told an old family ghost story (we all have them here in the south). The characters were interesting and I found myself unable to put the book down. The tone was on the money for the southern nuiance and I cared about these characters. I'm anxious to read the next in the series (especially since I worked at the battlefield and spent my teen years there hearing about old 'Green Eyes'). I truly enjoyed this story. If you want a taste of true southern gothic and a page turner, this is your piece of pie. Write On Ms. Priest !!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cherie Priest is an amazing writer. She mixes excellent story telling with mystery, suspense, horror, and a dark sense of humor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Keeping track of the names in the family tree was a little difficult. However, the author gave very good descriptions of the characters and engrossing details of their surroundings. The author held my attention at each episode, however there were some questions about the story that still leave me guestioning its significance. For example: The mysterious 'Book'! Whatever happened to it????? The story goes into deep detail about the characters efforts in trying to retrieve this special 'Book' and then the author drops the subject as if it never was mentioned in the story. Then there's a part in the story that the heroine boldly (& stupidly) drinks some smelly mysterious unknown liquid that was found in a vial in a relatives house in which she felt impending harm to herself - a stretch on the imagination. I wish the author had given explanation on the relationship with 'John Gray' (the sorcerer) and the heroines grandfather 'Avery'. You're left with another void trying to figure out what caused Avery to turn evil. Even with the unaswered questions, the author has a easy to read writing style and the book is a good past time read.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down. Would I recommend it? Yes -- to those who like a good ghost story (such as myself). This is not quite as deep or as chilling as many of the ghost stories in my collection (for example, The House That Jack Built by Graham Masterson is one of the creepiest ghost stories ever which scared the crap out of me when I read it) but it's pretty good.A brief synopsis: Eden Moore has known ghosts all of her life. They talk to her and they protect her from harm when her life is threatened. But underneath it all, she doesn't really know who these ghosts are and why they are attached to her specifically. Eden is being raised by Lulu, her aunt, who does know the answers but won't tell. When Eden is old enough, she goes in search of information about her mother, who ended her life in a terrible place called Pine Breeze, and what she finds leads her to a destiny that only she can fulfill.I thought it was fun and the supernatural elements were done well. At places in the story I thought things turned out a little too coincidental & too pat and I had to keep notes as to exactly who was related to whom as it got sort of complicated. But considering it is her first novel, I think she did a great job.
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not normally a fan of horror books, mostly because I don't like a lot of blood and gore, but since this series was written by Cherie Priest--one of my favorite authors--I decided to give it a try. And I wasn't disappointed. Instead I was quite taken in by the story that she weaves and the characters that she's created.Eden grows up with the ability to see ghosts. In particular she sees three ghosts that watch over her and at times protect her. And they know the secrets of her family, the secrets her Aunt Lulu refuses to reveal. When a crazed half-cousin comes gunning for her, Eden is drawn into the family secrets that she's been looking for...secrets that might kill her and everyone that she knows.Priest creates and builds an appropriately moody and spooky environment, that will give you chills down your spine at just the right moments. She captures the environment to a T and builds places that become vividly real in the mind, lending to a sense of fear. The characters that creates are memorable, eerily familiar and yet strange and distant all at the same time. I found myself continually pulling and rooting for Eden to find out what her past was and wondering what dark secrets her family tree was hiding. And as I mentioned above I'm not really a fan of horror because of the blood and gore factor that creeps into so many of them, but Priest creates a sense of horror without drenching pages with blood and guts. Blood shows up on occasion, but it makes sense for the plot and story.I can't wait to read the two other books in the series and I'd highly recommend this one, even to people who aren't normally fans of horror.
agis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Four and Twenty Blackbirds" is more creepy than horrifying, but it's a constant creeping dread, even when you figure out much of what's going on before the protagonist does. An odd decision by one of the characters later on in the book saps some of the tension out as it doesn't seem to be justified by anything other than narrative necessity, but the climax is still gripping.Cherie Priest's horror novel follows the seemingly haunted Eden, as she grows up in an adopted family, in atmosphere suffused with family secrets. Secrets tied to why a man attempted to kill her when she was still a child, and who exactly the ghosts haunting her - or protecting her - are. Priest keeps up the tension surrounding the central mystery, but the physical threat to Eden is never entirely convincing until it gets ratcheted up at the end; and the incompetence of the police is odd. It's still a good horror novel, with blood and family center stage.
dberryfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spooky and excellently written. Best read at 3 in the morning for full effect.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Creepy, twisty, and full of atmosphere, this story was good, scary fun. I really liked Eden. While she does have suspiciously useful poetry, knife, and car identification skills, she was a believable characters, and pulled me along on her search for answers in deeply held family secrets.The beginning scenes from her childhood didn't rig quite true for me, but once it settled into present time, I started to care for Eden and her adopted parents. I look forward to the next instalment.The landscape is particularly well used to add to the growing tension in the story - forest, swamp, old family graveyard, gothic mansion, and abandoned institution, all these clichéd settings were given fresh life, and described so clearly I could smell them
jlparent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Cherie Priest's first novel and as such, has a few rough patches. However, I still really liked it. One thing Priest always does well, especially in her steampunk offerings, is write a pretty sentence and builds atmosphere - that's evident here. When very young, Eden gets a bit of a shock when 3 female ghosts appear to her the 1st time. As she grows up, they appear a few more times (stress/danger), throw in some weird dreams, attempts on her life by a religious zealot, and very complex family tree/history and that is the basis for this tale (book 1 in series). As I said, it's not perfect; certain story threads get a bit...kinked at convenience and some explanations are either overdone or overly convenient. Still, if you like a bit of Southern Gothic in your speculative fiction, give it a whirl - I found it enjoyable and fun.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Book Report: In a fun twist on Haley Joel Osment's famous line, "I see dead people," young Eden discovers she can see and hear three dead women when they save her life, preventing her from being shot by an insane cousin who believes Eden to be the reincarnation of an evil figure from their shared family past. The dead women appear to Eden only at times of great danger and stress, which come increasingly often as she grows into a strange young womanhood. Her life's trajectory appears to be set by the existence of an evil ancestor, whose final disappearance into death is fast approaching. He uses all his sorcerous powers to fashion Eden into his tool to return to the living. This plan fails because Eden isn't having it, and if you know anything at all about Southern women, that's enough said right there.My Review: Yet again we have a giant missed opportunity of a book. This idea, and the expository 50pp, are terrific. I loved them, and I was so excited to read the book I couldn't wait to get back to it!Hit the middle, and found myself wandering around uninterested in the middle of a nothing-much kind of a life.Came the ending, I was ticked off at the presumption evident in the author that we her readers would buy pretty much anything. Threads got dropped, threads got yanked into places they weren't heading before, and all through it, the reason I got interested in the first place...the three ghostly sisters...are used only as deus ex machina, which was a cheat AND a bore.I am so disappointed! This chickie can write good sentences, and she can dream up great ideas, but the execution of this novel, at least, is poor. Very Neil Gaiman...great idea, give it to someone else to write so it will be used to best advantage instead of mangled and squished and generally crapped up.Do I even need to add "not recommended" at the end of the review?
tymfos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I hadn't read it in one of the blurbs, I would never guess that this is Cherie Priest's first novel. It's atmospheric, intense, creepy, and imaginative. The characters are flawed but likeable -- except for the ones the reader isn't supposed to like, who are mainly nasty, dense, wacko, or pure evil.Eden Moore has been seeing ghosts since childhood. Not every ghost in the neighborhood, but three ghosts -- three sisters -- who have some mysterious bearing on Eden's past life (lives?) and future. She sees someone else, too -- a crazy fellow with murderous intent who is very much alive. As she matures, she becomes curious -- about her long-dead mother, about the ghosts who follow her, about the crazy man who wants to kill her, about the mystery of her life. Her search for answers will take her to some very spooky places, pit her against powers of darkness, and place her in grave peril -- but it just may save her life and her kin's lives, too. If she can survive . . .
ladybug74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book seemed really good in the beginning. I read almost half of it in one night and could not wait to finish it. Unfortunately, it went downhill quickly from that point. As I got closer to the end, I couldn't even stand to finish it, so I just skimmed through and read parts to see how it ended.
cinnamonowl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book had all the classic elements of a spooky, mysterious book - swamps, crumbling hospital/asylum, ghosts, murderous relatives, and an unknown past. Like an adult version of Scooby-Doo almost, and I was (am) a huge Scooby Doo fan. And it had a few creepy moments- like a certain scene at a summer camp, and the vision of how the three women died. But the book itself fell flat. Eden was boring. She also seemed to be removed from her own life, and not really care about what is happening to her. She has a relative who is trying to kill her, but even says in the book that she is not really afraid of him. If she is not, we sure are not going to be. And if we aren't, then what is the point? That completely removes any tension from the book, and without some suspense, it is boring. And Eden is kind of tough to like. A co-worker, albeit an annoying one, is killed in front of her, and Eden doesn't care since she never liked the woman anyway. That just seems soulless. The book does pick up some excitement at the very end, where Eden is fighting for her life. And she finally seems to care. But that was it - the rest of the book could have been mysteriously scary, but since Eden didn't care, neither did I.This is a case of never judge a book by its cover: This book looked like it was going to be a great read, but turned out it just wasn't.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eden Moore grew up knowing that the three ghostly women who always hovered somewhere near were tasked with protecting here. For a long time, she believed they were protecting her from her Tatie Eliza and her cousin Malachi who attempted to kill her when she was younger, both believing her to be as wicked as her great-grandfather. She should have felt at peace with the protection of the women, but dreams of a mysterious book with a severed hand at the back and the mystery surrounding her Mother's death and those of the three women pique her curiosity. She sets out on a dangerous course through an abandoned hospital and her Tatie Eliza's antebellum mansion to discover the truth about herself and her family before the past comes to take control of her.Cherie Priest's debut novel is pure Southern gothic horror, complete with a crumbling mansion filled with family secrets as well as hidden rooms, a hospital haunted not just by the history of what happened there but by an angry spirit sent to harm the heroine, a creepy swamp, ghosts both good and bad, and dark magic. Her heroine, Eden Moore, is smart, strong-willed, no-nonsense and incredibly likable. Tatie Eliza and cousin Malachi are the perfect obstacles for her, blinded by family birthright, tradition and the belief that what they are doing is just. When Tatie smiles at Eden, you can feel the hatred dripping from her lips.I also liked the pacing. Nothing seemed to drag and the action/suspense had me reading every word to make sure I didn't miss anything (instead of glossing over them like I sometimes do when I feel the book needs to be moving a bit faster)."Four and Twenty Blackbirds" is a fun story, filled with action and supernatural thrills that I think fans of ghost stories and horror novels should take a chance to read.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good Gothicky Southern horror. Eden sees dead people. More specifically she sees three sisters killed by one man. She first knew about them when she drew a picture of them in school. She is a strange child. Eventually she's called to the guidance counselor's office for a chat (a few years later) during which she has a vision and ends up doing a little physical harm to the counselor during the vision.Eden also knows things most people don't. She knows she's lived before. She knows her mother was taken to a place she calls Pine Trees and there died, leaving Eden to be raised by her aunt Lulu and eventually her Uncle Dave. After an attempt on her life by a boy who refers to her as Avery, Eden learns there's quite a bit more to her family than Lulu will tell her (Lulu keeps insisting she'll tell Eden when Eden is older). After a trip through an abandoned asylum, a brief stay at a Southern mansion, a trip to St. Augustine, Florida, and eventually an encounter in the swamps of Florida, Eden discovers exactly who John Gray was and what he means to her family, and to her.My sister found this creepier than I did. I'm not sure if I'm just jaded, or if it's because she lives in the South and I have no experience of it. I must say that horror set in the northeast gets to me more, so it may be a place thing. Though I am also affected by horror set in the UK...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book couldnt put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting and hiiked me frim the start. I couldnt put it diwn once i started. The characters were interesting and likeable, although the family tree was pretty confusing. The ending was odd and left me with questions, but overall a very good and satisfying read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read book 2 first (Wings to the Kingdom) and really liked it. I naturally assumed this one would be even better. Wrong. The premise is strong, the characters are intriguing and Priest is a talented writer. However, this book needed a skilled editor to keep the story moving where it stalled and to develop certain plot lines more effectively. And the errors! Embarrassing that certain spelling/grammatical mistakes, typos, and worst of all, s cene conflicts were not caught/corrected. So overall a respectable effort by Priest, but I can't really recommend it unless you've nothing better to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was hard to putdown. Certainly will be seeking out her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago