I didn’t want to like Nell Ingram, Faith Hunter‘s main character in her Soulwood series. I have nothing in common with her, having never lived in the woods, in America’s south, or been a part of a religious cult-like community. For all intents and purposes, I should never have gotten past the first fifty pages of Blood of the Earth.
Yet, I did. Nell is fascinating as a strong, reliable, and hard working main character, all traits I would like to embody.
She emerges from a cloistered existence, part of a very closed religious community that does everything it can to be self-reliant, into a town with paranormal cops policing her community that also has vampires, werewolves, witches, and humans. As a woman who owns her own house and woods, Nell must protect herself and her property from members of her church who view it as theirs because she is a woman and shouldn’t be able to own property.
To protect herself and her property, Nell relies on her wits and a couple of shotguns. She’s afraid but she doesn’t back down. She holds her own without help from others. What a powerful woman!
Nell’s new job with the paranormal investigative branch means all kinds of changes for her including cell phones and computers. Yet, these changes don’t phase her. She adjusts, keeps moving forward, forging her own path in a place where she has no one to follow.
Through her new job, she discovers her own latent abilities, a supernatural that can make plants grow, read the earth and much more. These abilities, to nurture and protect those around her, once discovered, in hindsight should be obvious since she’s protecting that which is closest to her, her freedom and her family, when we first meet her.
She risks herself to protect her family and her friends and by the end, she’s protecting her new work colleagues, expanding her world and those she considers close to her. She’s growing, blossoming like the plants she coaxes into full bloom and there’s lots more to come.