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 as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.

All Things Bright and Strange Details

TitleAll Things Bright and Strange
Author
ReleaseJan 30th, 2018
PublisherThomas Nelson
ISBN-139780718090289
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Christian Fiction, Literary Fiction

All Things Bright and Strange Review

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    BookLookBloggers My Blog: Melissa Martin's Reading List
  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • ☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    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 ☆
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalleyThe 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 NetGalleyThe 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.
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  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    January 1, 1970
    Published 30 Jan 2018, archived 1 March 2018. Thomas Nelson.
  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“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: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“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, 2018Thomas Nelson Fiction
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  • Scarlett
    January 1, 1970
    Um, definitely not what I was expecting from this book at all. All Things Bright and Strange 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. All Things Bright and Strange 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 The Man Called Ove 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.
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  • Chrissie
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting stab at mixing the supernatural with a religious foundation, All Things Bright and Strange is a little uneven but still enjoyable. I do find that the label of 'Christian Fiction' is a little misleading (and based on some reviews on Amazon, I see that other people feel the same way) because that label generally applies to the types of books where someone is grappling with some internal conflict and, through their Christian beliefs, they find their way. However, I find myself unable An interesting stab at mixing the supernatural with a religious foundation, All Things Bright and Strange is a little uneven but still enjoyable. I do find that the label of 'Christian Fiction' is a little misleading (and based on some reviews on Amazon, I see that other people feel the same way) because that label generally applies to the types of books where someone is grappling with some internal conflict and, through their Christian beliefs, they find their way. However, I find myself unable to think of anything better, because the book does have a huge basis in the Christian religion. It is, however, really from a historical/scholarly standpoint. Also, this book (which is something I greatly appreciated) gives a strong sense of inclusion and acceptance of other races, religions, and people. There is no hint of superiority, but more of harmony—again, something I found refreshing and impressive.A little slow in some parts, and a little uneven in others—particularly where the POV switches (for the tiniest fraction of the novel) suddenly to that of several townspeople for small snippets of narration at a time, like a point-of-view wheel—the reveals and the unfolding of the plot were intriguing. As a Southerner, I found Markert's turns of phrases to be spot on, and they often made me giggle with their authenticity. I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, nor the content of my review.
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  • Louise Marley
    January 1, 1970
    I chose this book because I liked the look of the cover, I thought the title was clever and the story sounded a little bit different.All Things Bright and Strange opens in 1917. Despite the differences in race and religion, the people of Bellhaven have always got along with each other. But then a group of men wearing white robes and carrying flaming torches track a young black boy, Raphael, to the town and set fire to the town hall. Several people are killed, including Eliza Newberry, the wife o I chose this book because I liked the look of the cover, I thought the title was clever and the story sounded a little bit different.All Things Bright and Strange opens in 1917. Despite the differences in race and religion, the people of Bellhaven have always got along with each other. But then a group of men wearing white robes and carrying flaming torches track a young black boy, Raphael, to the town and set fire to the town hall. Several people are killed, including Eliza Newberry, the wife of Michael Elsworth Newberry.Three years later and Elsworth is still grieving for Eliza. He lost his leg during the war, along with his best friend, and is still suffering from PTSD. He's considering suicide when a cardinal (American bird) crashes into his window, distracting him. While he's been holed up at home, strange things have been happening in the town. Trees and flowers are blossoming at the same time, the cardinals are everywhere, and what about that strange old chapel in the woods, where it's rumoured you can speak to the dead...The strength of this story is definitely in the brilliant characters and I loved the way they interacted with each other, their old friendships shining through. The story is told by Elsworth, who has an entertaining, dry sense of humour, but I also loved Raphael, Gabriel and Anna Belle. The setting is very atmospheric and the mystery surrounding that sinister chapel kept me gripped too - until 1.00 am in the morning!However, about halfway through the book the viewpoint switches to that of several townspeople, one after the other, revealing the grudges they feel towards their neighbours, and their plans to get their own back. This went on a bit too long and I'm afraid I ended up skipping it. And the shoot-out scene didn't seem to go with the magic realism style. Apart from that, I really did enjoy this unusual story and would give it 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.All Things Bright and Strange would appeal to fans of Stephen King (Needful Things) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods). I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book, which will be published on 30th January 2017.Thank you to James Markert, Thomas Nelson, and Netgalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    All Things Bright and StrangeBy James MarkertPublished by Thomas NelsonE-Book ARC// I received this ARC from #netgalley in exchange for an honest review //All Things Bright and Strange follows the story of Michael Ellsworth Newberry, who goes by Ellsworth, who's life is strange to say the least. He has survived things that no one could imagine and that make no sense. After the death of his wife and the loss of his leg, Ellsworth has lived a grumpy life that leads him to wanting to kill himself. All Things Bright and StrangeBy James MarkertPublished by Thomas NelsonE-Book ARC// I received this ARC from #netgalley in exchange for an honest review //All Things Bright and Strange follows the story of Michael Ellsworth Newberry, who goes by Ellsworth, who's life is strange to say the least. He has survived things that no one could imagine and that make no sense. After the death of his wife and the loss of his leg, Ellsworth has lived a grumpy life that leads him to wanting to kill himself. An act he again survives when the gun doesn't go off. As the story continues, we see that the town of Bellhaven is not quite right. Something is happening that is affecting all the residents of the accepting small town. And all because of a mysterious chapel in the woods. What follows is a story of religion, self-doubt and fantasy straight out of biblical myth.All Things Bright and Strange is an interesting book. When I say interesting, I mean I really don't know how I feel about it. The story is a mix of fantasy, religion and small town life that left me feeling like I had just watched an episode of Supernatural. If you don't know what Supernatural is, it is a TV show about two brothers who battle the supernatural forces of the world and all sorts of antics ensue. Anyway, I wasn't sure how to take the story at all. It started off well and good, but the story never seemed to find a solid footing. About halfway through the book I could begin to see where the story was going but I felt like chunks of the book were disjointed. The best way I can describe it is "close, but no cigar". It really just needed more detail, more depth. There needed to be more of a backstory to fully make the reader understand where the chapel came from and the people associated with it.But for all my confusion, it really was a decent story that took a different approach to the eternal battle of good vs evil. I give All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert 📖📖📖 / 5 bookies. I recommend this book for an interesting read.
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  • Tami
    January 1, 1970
    I was attracted to the premise of James Markert’s new novel and it turned out to be much more than I expected. In fact, it’s a novel of biblical proportions.The main character, Michael Ellsworth Newberry, has just returned home to Bellhaven from WWI, with one less leg and a load of guilt and heartache. He is still grieving the death of his wife and the loss of his lifelong friend, Calvin.Ellsworth is at a crucially low point in his life, when he sees a female cardinal that causes him to rethink I was attracted to the premise of James Markert’s new novel and it turned out to be much more than I expected. In fact, it’s a novel of biblical proportions.The main character, Michael Ellsworth Newberry, has just returned home to Bellhaven from WWI, with one less leg and a load of guilt and heartache. He is still grieving the death of his wife and the loss of his lifelong friend, Calvin.Ellsworth is at a crucially low point in his life, when he sees a female cardinal that causes him to rethink the path of his life. The cardinal is a symbol of the fire of life that burns within, a symbol of joy, hope and rejuvenation. To Ellsworth, the cardinal symbolizes his late wife, Eliza.As Ellsworth slowly emerges from the depression he is in, he realizes the people of Bellhaven have begun to go into the woods. Woods that for years had been off limits. Within these woods is a chapel that is believed to have a “healing floor” and some people claim to hear the voices of their loved ones who have passed away. The chapel has a pull on the people, much the same as an addict craves his drink or drug of choice.We all know the saying, “too much of a good thing is not good for you” and “things are not always what they seem,” which holds true for the chapel. Ellsworth had his suspicions about the woods and the chapel and soon his suspicions were confirmed.Gathering a trusted group of friends and newcomers, Ellsworth and the townspeople work together to fight against an evil force that lies in the center of the chapel. I think readers with a knowledge of the Bible will catch the foreshadowing, the significance of names and possibly have a better understanding of what is to come. I thought the story was a gentle reminder that we are all connected and need to care for the living and not dwell too much on the past.Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson-FICTION for providing me with an advance read in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Vishaka Rajan
    January 1, 1970
    I went into this novel with absolutely no idea on how I would feel about it. I emerged from it thinking that it was quite an interesting read.I really liked the premise of this book and the way events unfolded in this town. The story is told entirely from Ellsworth's point of view, and he is quite a character. I think the author tries really hard to make him complex, but at times, it was a bit forced. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Ellsworth and really liked him. There were many different char I went into this novel with absolutely no idea on how I would feel about it. I emerged from it thinking that it was quite an interesting read.I really liked the premise of this book and the way events unfolded in this town. The story is told entirely from Ellsworth's point of view, and he is quite a character. I think the author tries really hard to make him complex, but at times, it was a bit forced. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Ellsworth and really liked him. There were many different characters who were introduced to the story, and it could be quite confusing to keep them all straight. However, all of the characters had backstories and vices that helped the reader make a connection with them. I did think that everyone's constant positive regard for Ellsworth was a tad overbearing, but it makes sense in terms of the story. I really liked the way that the story progressed. We start off with the emergence of this chapel, which has always been present, yet the people of this town have been unaware of it. But once they become aware, they cannot help but visit, enticed by the messages it gives them. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that this chapel is not a blessing - rather, it is curse. The frenzy that developed throughout this story was fantastic, and I really enjoyed every minute of the book.... until we got to the final climax. That's when I felt disappointment. After all this amazing build up and tension and intrigue, the climax felt lackluster. Even though the ending was not as great as I had hoped, the story itself was interesting and I enjoyed most of it. I wasn't expecting it to make references to faith (totally missed out that it was labelled as Christian fiction) but the author made it work in the story. I would give this a 3/5 stars.I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.For more reviews, visit: www.veereading.wordpress.com
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  • Chie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars “This town is different, you’ll be welcome here.” Indeed it is different. Bellhaven is a peaceful town considered to be a melting pot – where people of different religions and race live together in harmony. They sing, dance, eat, and play instruments together. Little did they know that a walk in the woods and discovering a mysterious chapel deep in it will change the life of each town folk. Ellsworth Newberry is ready to die. He lost his wife and lost one of his limbs and friends in th 3.5 stars “This town is different, you’ll be welcome here.” Indeed it is different. Bellhaven is a peaceful town considered to be a melting pot – where people of different religions and race live together in harmony. They sing, dance, eat, and play instruments together. Little did they know that a walk in the woods and discovering a mysterious chapel deep in it will change the life of each town folk. Ellsworth Newberry is ready to die. He lost his wife and lost one of his limbs and friends in the war. One bullet is all that he needs for his threatening and scary dreams to be gone. But, he is the bedrock of the town and his people need him the most now. Words spread about the mysterious chapel hidden in the woods. Inexplicably, the people are drawn to it. Claiming to have experienced inner peace, some claims that they have talked to their loved ones who already passed away. More and more people started to visit the chapel in increasing frequency. They could feel the change in the air. But change can be deceiving… “Don’t be fooled by the beauty.” Until one day, all those who went into the chapel seem to be acting strange. They begin to turn to one another. What happened to this peaceful town? Can Ellsworth Newberry save his town including himself? “Our beliefs may be different. Some may not believe at all, but we have the same questions, the same needs, that desire for good to prevail. And it’s time to focus again on what brings us together instead of what could tear us apart.” This is a good take on the battle between good and evil. I love the personality of each of the characters, their strong connection to each other. This book was almost an unputdownable one but there were some parts of it that felt boring to me. I started to get confused when the story started to be narrated by several (minor) characters. Thank you to James Markert, Thomas Nelson and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert was exactly what the title says, all things bright and strange. When first reading I didn't expect to come to love the residents of Bellhaven as much as I did. There were so many broken characters I was sure I wouldn't get to see each of their journeys. I was sure I was going to be depressed and bogged down with so much detail. That wasn't the case, at all. I loved this book so much. After the first few chapters the pacing picked up, Ellsworth gets All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert was exactly what the title says, all things bright and strange. When first reading I didn't expect to come to love the residents of Bellhaven as much as I did. There were so many broken characters I was sure I wouldn't get to see each of their journeys. I was sure I was going to be depressed and bogged down with so much detail. That wasn't the case, at all. I loved this book so much. After the first few chapters the pacing picked up, Ellsworth gets off his butt and the strange comes in to play. There is a chapel in the middle of the woods with magical qualities. But we all know the saying, "Magic comes with a price". What a price this town pays. Weaved throughout the entire story are elements of race, coming together and overcoming differences that I found relevant to today's world. Seeing it in a historical setting and how these characters/town work together and to find a solution and the error in their ways, that left me feeling right as the novel wrapped up.Ellsworth became my absolute favorite character. As the town went to pieces, he stepped up, even though he was a one-legged, PTSD ridden, and one hundred percent lost with where his life was going to go.There were scenes that had me laughing so hard. There were parts of this book the stomped on my heart and the entire time I was reading I wanted other people to read it as well.Would I recommend All Things Bright and Strange to others? Oh yes. I did receive an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Annette Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    A highly original and very engaging tale set in the aftermath of the first world war. Bellhaven is a small Southern town, but unlike so many others it seems to be a place of tolerance and empathy, however the woods which surround it may not be so benign, For years the townsfolk have been wary, and do not venture too far into these woods and stories of strange voices abound, but now something is changing, and its up to returned soldier Michael Ellsworth Newberry to protect the town he calls home, A highly original and very engaging tale set in the aftermath of the first world war. Bellhaven is a small Southern town, but unlike so many others it seems to be a place of tolerance and empathy, however the woods which surround it may not be so benign, For years the townsfolk have been wary, and do not venture too far into these woods and stories of strange voices abound, but now something is changing, and its up to returned soldier Michael Ellsworth Newberry to protect the town he calls home, and the people that have supported him for so long. As the townsfolk start to turn on one another viciously, and a strange hidden chapel in the woods seems to be luring them towards destruction , can Ellsworth and his allies reunite them and protect the town from the encroaching supernatural onslaught. This book is populated by a wealth of well crafted and interesting characters ,from miracle man Ellsworth, to faithful blacksmith Gabriel and one of the things I liked most is the dynamic and diverse makeup of townsfolk, each sufficiently well detailed to make them interesting in their own right , as well as for the part they play in the story. The plot moves a long at a pace designed to draw the reader in, and as the book goes on the sense of impending danger is almost tangible. One of the key aspects of the book, and one of the most interesting things to me as a reader, is the way it deals with religion, in its many forms, and the message of the importance of unity over division and the acceptance of difference.I read an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher
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  • Lael Braday
    January 1, 1970
    All Things Bright and Strange by James MarkertMichael Ellsworth Newberry’s life has been miraculously spared multiple times throughout his life. In his hometown of Bellhaven, South Carolina, he is the unofficial leader of the unusually diverse, small town, Southern community. He has lost his wife to the town hall fire after her rescue of a young black child sought by Klansman, who set the fire. He has lost his leg to World War I, where he also lost his best friend and any chance at the Big Leagu All Things Bright and Strange by James MarkertMichael Ellsworth Newberry’s life has been miraculously spared multiple times throughout his life. In his hometown of Bellhaven, South Carolina, he is the unofficial leader of the unusually diverse, small town, Southern community. He has lost his wife to the town hall fire after her rescue of a young black child sought by Klansman, who set the fire. He has lost his leg to World War I, where he also lost his best friend and any chance at the Big Leagues as a pitcher. Left bereft and wallowing in self-pity, Ellsworth is the last of the townfolk to receive the forgiveness and peace offered by lost loves in the mysterious chapel in the woods, the same woods that the children of Bellhaven had been warned to avoid for as long as they can remember. He doesn’t respond as readily as the others to this gift, fighting it, determined to expose the double-edged sword of such a gift.Good and evil are not clearly delineated throughout this story of redemption, as flawed, complex individuals come together to fight the true enemy, the enemy to which their eyes must be opened. Each time it seems the story may be slipping into the stereotypical, Christian concept of Armageddon, it edges back into a tale of mythical fantasy with graphic descriptions of extraordinary happenings. Though a tale of good versus evil, it uniquely casts shade on all characters and delivers an astonishing climax and unexpected ending.I appreciate the chance to read the ARC of this wonderful story through NetGalley.
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  • Carly
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm a huge fan of any fantastical stuff related to forests, so the premise of this book sounded awesome to me. Unfortunately, I found the execution to be fairly disappointing. My biggest issue with this book was the treatment of Ellsworth, the main character. I found him to be very unsympathetic throughout the entire book, yet the narrative continually tried to frame him as some kind of amazing hero, when in reality h I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I'm a huge fan of any fantastical stuff related to forests, so the premise of this book sounded awesome to me. Unfortunately, I found the execution to be fairly disappointing. My biggest issue with this book was the treatment of Ellsworth, the main character. I found him to be very unsympathetic throughout the entire book, yet the narrative continually tried to frame him as some kind of amazing hero, when in reality he did very little, and the changes his character did go through felt unearned. The only character I liked was Gabriel, and even then, she deserved better than how the narrative (and Ellsworth) treated her. In general, the treatment of the female characters in this book could have been much better. The only part of this book I really enjoyed was about the last 5% of it. The scenes felt very disorganized, as did the progression of the plot. At the end, a lot of it just felt needlessly overly complicated, as well as too supernaturally convenient. The prose was pretty sometimes, but there was also a lot of info-dumping and monologuing which just bored me. The concept was so interesting, but sadly the execution wasn't satisfying at all.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Bellhaven is a small town with more religious denominations than most cities contain. But why are all the religious leaders fighting and why are Reverend Cane, Father Timothy, Rabbi Blumenthal, Reverend Beaver, Reverend Moses Yarney, Reverend Hofhamm, and Brother Bannerman all sneaking into that chapel in the woods? Who is America Ma and why are all the people in town going to that chapel in the woods on a daily basis?This is a story blending faith and the possibilities of the supernatural, incl Bellhaven is a small town with more religious denominations than most cities contain. But why are all the religious leaders fighting and why are Reverend Cane, Father Timothy, Rabbi Blumenthal, Reverend Beaver, Reverend Moses Yarney, Reverend Hofhamm, and Brother Bannerman all sneaking into that chapel in the woods? Who is America Ma and why are all the people in town going to that chapel in the woods on a daily basis?This is a story blending faith and the possibilities of the supernatural, inclusion and exclusion, good and bad, possible and improbable and the importance of forgiveness. There is a large cast of characters but Michael Ellsworth Newberry stands at the center. His resilience from many personal losses including the death of his parents, his wife and the amputation of a limb as a result of his part in World War I repeat throughout the book. Heavy in symbolism and strong in conviction this was a well written book. The reader would do well to set aside mundane belief and allow for creative thought and imagination. After all, who is got say what is real and probable?Thank You NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishing for an ARC
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    Oh how I loved this book! It gripped me right from the beginning, even though typically supernatural stories aren't my jam. It did take a bit of a menacing turn about three quarters through but that didn't ruin the charm, if anything, I couldn't wait to read the resolution and what was to become of the town, which was always so accepting no matter the race or religion until suddenly, it wasn't. The story is told from the point of view of Ellsworth and I really liked him, he had a lot of depth an Oh how I loved this book! It gripped me right from the beginning, even though typically supernatural stories aren't my jam. It did take a bit of a menacing turn about three quarters through but that didn't ruin the charm, if anything, I couldn't wait to read the resolution and what was to become of the town, which was always so accepting no matter the race or religion until suddenly, it wasn't. The story is told from the point of view of Ellsworth and I really liked him, he had a lot of depth and even though he could be abrasive he really wanted what was best for the town. There were plenty of other endearing characters too, from those who cook to keep their minds busy to those that spend the early morning creating bird houses in their garden shed. I liked how the stories all intermingled and even if something didn't appear clear at first, it was easy to trust that it would be in the end. If you want a read full of colourful characters, small town southern charm and a heap of mystery then this might just be the book for you. Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson publishers for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lenoire
    January 1, 1970
    A small Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina there is a trouble brewing in the mysterious chapel hidden deep in the woods. The town inhabitants are drawn to the chapel and its beautiful surroundings. However, they soon realize that can be evil among even the most beautiful things.The town start turn against each other and pick sides. They depend on their town hero, Ellsworth Newberry for guidance as he always survives even the toughest situations. However, Ellsworth balances his own self w A small Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina there is a trouble brewing in the mysterious chapel hidden deep in the woods. The town inhabitants are drawn to the chapel and its beautiful surroundings. However, they soon realize that can be evil among even the most beautiful things.The town start turn against each other and pick sides. They depend on their town hero, Ellsworth Newberry for guidance as he always survives even the toughest situations. However, Ellsworth balances his own self worth and mortality when the town seems to need to him the most. Will Ellsworth be able to save himself and his beloved town? What is hidden in the beautiful chapel in the forbidden forest?I have read "Angel's Share" by James Markert and enjoyed the novel. So, I was very excited to read this new novel, which seems to have a similar premise. However, this novel was a bit weird and a convoluted plot. I had a hard time following the story when a lot of unnecessary details, characters and slow parts. I had high hopes for this novel and was very disappointed.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.Following WW1 Ellsworth Newberry has returned home to the town of Bellhaven, South Carolina a broken man, both physically and mentally. He spends all day at home drinking himself into oblivion, haunted by the war and the death of his beloved wife three years earlier. Each day his gun is looking more and more tempting. One morning Ellsworth decides today is the day he will take his own life but then, just as his finger rests on the trigger, a lone card I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.Following WW1 Ellsworth Newberry has returned home to the town of Bellhaven, South Carolina a broken man, both physically and mentally. He spends all day at home drinking himself into oblivion, haunted by the war and the death of his beloved wife three years earlier. Each day his gun is looking more and more tempting. One morning Ellsworth decides today is the day he will take his own life but then, just as his finger rests on the trigger, a lone cardinal bird lands on his windowsill. Outside things are changing. All the flowers and trees are blooming out of season, thousands of colourful birds have descended upon the town, and there is something very strange going on in the woods. But this is not the first time such strangeness has come to the town of Bellhaven. Maybe if Ellsworth can find a way out of his melancholia he can get to the bottom of these beautiful but unusual occurrences. A really enjoyable read that is part historic fiction and part supernatural, good vs. evil, fantasy.
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  • Bethany Ricci
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest reviewDNF 55%, I tried, I really, really tried...There were enough random moments of pull/excitement that I tried to plow through the slower parts but at half of the way through I was still struggling. It started off very slow and even though I left it and tried to pick it back up several times I came to terms that this book was simply just not for me. I did appreciate the writing and the setting but the storyline itself was choppy with s Thank you Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest reviewDNF 55%, I tried, I really, really tried...There were enough random moments of pull/excitement that I tried to plow through the slower parts but at half of the way through I was still struggling. It started off very slow and even though I left it and tried to pick it back up several times I came to terms that this book was simply just not for me. I did appreciate the writing and the setting but the storyline itself was choppy with so many characters and their backstories. I was expecting to love this book but at the end of the day I wasn't feeling it. The premise of a chapel in the woods with healing powers that in turn eventually causes people to yield their darkest selves was an intriguing premise, but for me the execution of that premise just didn't hold me. I do believe other readers (as reviews show) will enjoy it but I appreciate the opportunity to read in exchange for an unbiased review. DNF at 55%. 3 Stars.
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  • Grace O'Brien
    January 1, 1970
    Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the beautiful story telling in this historical fiction combined with the supernatural. We meet the citizens of Bellhaven, several of whom have returned to America from world war one with physical and psychological scars and injuries. The seemingly idyllic town has a hidden and troubling mystery lying in the depth of the woods.The characters were quirky and varied, I found myself egging on Ellsworth as the story builds. As much as I enjoyed the story, I did find t Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the beautiful story telling in this historical fiction combined with the supernatural. We meet the citizens of Bellhaven, several of whom have returned to America from world war one with physical and psychological scars and injuries. The seemingly idyllic town has a hidden and troubling mystery lying in the depth of the woods.The characters were quirky and varied, I found myself egging on Ellsworth as the story builds. As much as I enjoyed the story, I did find the couple of chapters in the middle a little tedious trying to keep up with all the religious leaders and their churches in the town, however, the story all comes together following this and you just know that it's all coming together.I was fascinated and intrigued by the blurb and cover and was not disappointed.Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to review an advance copy.
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  • Jenny Waterman
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as an ARC in exchange for my review. There were so many angles this story could have taken... sadly I ended up being dissatisfied with how things ended up. A depressed suicidal war veteran... a clash of cultures, values and the religious purpose of life intersect with a storyline based on the power of Good and Evil. But in the end I did not feel the supernatural turn in the characters was necessary. The writing became disjointed and some characters relationships were left un I received this book as an ARC in exchange for my review. There were so many angles this story could have taken... sadly I ended up being dissatisfied with how things ended up. A depressed suicidal war veteran... a clash of cultures, values and the religious purpose of life intersect with a storyline based on the power of Good and Evil. But in the end I did not feel the supernatural turn in the characters was necessary. The writing became disjointed and some characters relationships were left unaddressed. This was a different style of book with amazing visual descriptions and imagery. I feel the dilemma proposed to the small southern town of Good vs Evil was pertinent and in many ways enjoyable.
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  • Merryl Todd
    January 1, 1970
    At the outset I had a feeling of déjà vu – that I read something similar a long time ago. This similarity I thought, was to Stephen King’s Needful Things, but when I refreshed my memory of King’s book I realised the only real similarity was the house (and evil presence) on the top of the hill overlooking a township.All Things Bright and Strange is more mystical than horror although like many of King’s books it is based around a struggle between good and evil.There are a plethora of characters in At the outset I had a feeling of déjà vu – that I read something similar a long time ago. This similarity I thought, was to Stephen King’s Needful Things, but when I refreshed my memory of King’s book I realised the only real similarity was the house (and evil presence) on the top of the hill overlooking a township.All Things Bright and Strange is more mystical than horror although like many of King’s books it is based around a struggle between good and evil.There are a plethora of characters in this book - too many it seems for some readers based on their reviews but I found them interesting and their diversity integral to the storyline.
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  • Ysolde
    January 1, 1970
    I love historical fiction, so I was excited about this book because I find WWI and the great depression to be very interesting time periods. I loved that this book had an interesting twist that was staring me right in the face and I missed it! I did have a hard time keeping track of all the characters and sometimes found myself going back to figure out who was who. I would've liked a little more in depth knowledge of the woods, and how things happened to be the way they were. This was an enjoyab I love historical fiction, so I was excited about this book because I find WWI and the great depression to be very interesting time periods. I loved that this book had an interesting twist that was staring me right in the face and I missed it! I did have a hard time keeping track of all the characters and sometimes found myself going back to figure out who was who. I would've liked a little more in depth knowledge of the woods, and how things happened to be the way they were. This was an enjoyable read, and it kept me interested in finding out where it was going.Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review
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  • CoffeeandInk
    January 1, 1970
    For me, this was a DNF about halfway through.  I tried. I loved the writing, and I picked it because it came up in my historical queue, but I didn't see that it was also Christian/Inspirational. About a quarter of the way through I was struggling, but decided the story seemed worth it, but I've got to the middle where all the various church leaders are turning vengeful and murderous, and I don't think I'll pick the story up again, I loved the writing, the characters, and the setting, but I just For me, this was a DNF about halfway through.  I tried. I loved the writing, and I picked it because it came up in my historical queue, but I didn't see that it was also Christian/Inspirational. About a quarter of the way through I was struggling, but decided the story seemed worth it, but I've got to the middle where all the various church leaders are turning vengeful and murderous, and I don't think I'll pick the story up again, I loved the writing, the characters, and the setting, but I just can't go on.
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  • Rekha O'Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    Elsworth Michael Newbury has nothing to live for. Nonetheless he keeps cheating death, even as those around him die. He has returned from the war to his small hometown in the South, and is trying to fade away. But Elsworth is special. He is the key to solving the mystery of strange happenings in his town. Magic, redemption, love, religion and justice are all woven into the tapestry of the town and its varied inhabitants. This novel is well-paced and beautifully written. It's humorous at times an Elsworth Michael Newbury has nothing to live for. Nonetheless he keeps cheating death, even as those around him die. He has returned from the war to his small hometown in the South, and is trying to fade away. But Elsworth is special. He is the key to solving the mystery of strange happenings in his town. Magic, redemption, love, religion and justice are all woven into the tapestry of the town and its varied inhabitants. This novel is well-paced and beautifully written. It's humorous at times and tragic, often both at the same time. Well worth a read.
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  • SA Schlueter
    January 1, 1970
    Surficial faultlines and cracks - geological, social, emotional and historical - permute a magical tale set in post World War I South Carolina. In the woods of Bellhaven sits a chapel; and a mansion on the hill overlooks the town and the wood. With vivid settings and prose, well-fleshed character development, and poignant yet inspirational themes; a town and its predestined heroes face a returning evil. I received an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson--FICTION in exchange for a Surficial faultlines and cracks - geological, social, emotional and historical - permute a magical tale set in post World War I South Carolina. In the woods of Bellhaven sits a chapel; and a mansion on the hill overlooks the town and the wood. With vivid settings and prose, well-fleshed character development, and poignant yet inspirational themes; a town and its predestined heroes face a returning evil. I received an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson--FICTION in exchange for an honest review.
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