An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie Huesz

Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring, knitting and playing solitaire agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.

Through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue wherein I can also request new digital audiobooks to become added to their OverDrive selections. Aside from OverDrive I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I have been able to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year since 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “A Lock of Hair” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with A. Rose Pritchett on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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A Q&A with the author A. Rose Pritchett

I would normally compile questions for an author to respond to whilst hosting a blog tour, however due to the amount of personal stress & adverse medical emergencies in my family recently, I honestly had forgotten to submit questions to Ms Pritchett. Thereby, I chose a selection of the questions she responded to which were based on questions Ms Jess asked herself as I found her replies to fit in-line with topics I would have broached myself if I had had the chance to ask her questions of my own.

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Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

Pritchett responds: When I first published my book a year ago, I knew I wanted to turn it into an audiobook, but didn’t know how to go about it. It seemed expensive and I already invested so much into editing and publishing. Then, after some research, I discovered that ACX has a royalty-share program, which means that I pay nothing upfront, but just split my royalties with the narrator. I auditioned a few narrators, and ended up choosing Melanie Huesz because she gave each character a unique voice, which I knew was a major challenge. After all, there are characters from Boston, Ireland and the South. Some are young, some are old, and one has Down Syndrome. After a couple months of back-and-forth, we got an audiobook produced.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Pritchett responds: Mildred’s dog, Nightshade, is inspired by my dog, Isabel. Even though they’re different breeds, Nightshade acts a lot like Isabel. Also, I took a Meyers-Briggs test from Mildred’s POV for the heck of it, and she’s an INFJ like me, so there’s that.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out?
What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

Pritchett responds: Contrary to popular advice, I don’t write every day. A lot of times, I’ll switch my focus to one of my many, many hobbies. In fact, part of my routine on days that I write is to take a break to draw or cross stitch, just to be away from the screen. I also allow myself to take “lazy days”, which are days (usually Sunday) where I just do nothing at all except watch cheesy movies and play Sims. It gives my mind a rest so that I’m not half-dead the next time I stare at the little blinking line on the blank screen.

What’s next for you?

Pritchett responds: I have a completed draft of my second book set during WW2 that I’m trying to get published, and I’m currently working on my third book, which is a fantasy that I’m really in love with. I’ve also dabbled in screenplay writing, with a pilot for a miniseries inspired by my childhood growing up in the restaurant industry and a script that I’m working on-and-off based on my experiences going from my preppy middle school to my arts high school (total culture shock!). All of my works have the same snarkiness that A Lock of Hair has.

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An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV  | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie HueszA Lock of Hair
by A. Rose Pritchett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Melanie Huesz

Boston, 1846. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Parish, a barber's daughter, practices practical witchcraft using locks of hair obtained from her father's customers. She's very selective about who knows her secret and the kinds of spells she casts. Only people she trusts can know, and she must never cast a spell to harm another person.

One of her father's clients is Theodore O'Brian, an Irish immigrant whose family is fortunate enough to be wealthy. Mildred is head over heels in love with him, but he's destined to be with someone else. One day, a woman named Trinity Hartell comes knocking on Mildred's door. She has a vendetta against an entire family and wants Mildred to cast a death spell on them. The family? The O'Brians, including Theodore. Mildred refuses, but Trinity is set on getting what she wants, one way or another.

Mildred now feels she must protect the O'Brian family and the man she loves, but she must also protect herself. How can she make sure Trinity is stopped without telling the entire city of Boston that she's a witch?

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B089YD7759

Published by Self Published

on 11th June, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes (unabridged)

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Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #AudioReads, #Audiobook and #AudiobookwormPromotions

as well as #HistoricalFiction and/or #HistFic

About A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett's writing career started in kindergarten when she daydreamed about being a fairy princess instead of learning subtraction. Her childhood obsession with American Girl turned her into an avid history lover.

At seventeen, she moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her BA in writing with a history minor from Georgia Southern University. She continues to live in Savannah, still daydreaming about princesses wearing gorgeous dresses. A LOCK OF HAIR is her debut novel.

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my review for a lock of hair:

One of my favourite bits to how this story begins involves the witchcraft on behalf of the young witch whose the lead character: Mildred takes locks of hair and combines them in a ritual with prayer in order to hopefully cast a promise of something particular for someone in need of a bit of help or intervention from her skills as a witch. Although I have known about Christian witches, this is the first story which sought to explain how they conduct themselves and how they approach the craft from a Christian POV – which of course included which personal items from a person were needed in order to cast a spell on their behalf. The main difference with this story is that the lead character openly discusses how she turns to God and how she practices her craft based on the foundational knowledge she gained from her mother.

Rather than traditional witchcraft being routed through the beliefs of Wiccan and how how witchcraft carries on through that thread of entrance. Mildred has a dog named Nightshade which is a quirk of its own because it is a dangerous herb which all witches would be familiar given they work with herbs quite regularly. Very soon into the story-line it is mentioned a child with special needs is misunderstood but the child isn’t in the foreground of the story (as of yet).

The biggest disclosure as we’re just taking stock of this world is that witchcraft as a manipulation of energy which effectively changes other people’s lives. I sat up a bit straighter when this was revealled because it is an effect and observation on witchcraft that isn’t always disclosed nor highlighted upon and I found this section of the story quite interesting! Especially as after Mildred and her friend (her protege) are talking about learning more of the craft and being mindful of the uses of it therein, she receives a request which simply takes her soul to task for how widely unrealistic the request was made of her and how jarring it was to think someone would even consider reaching out for such a task at all! As alarming as it were for Mildred and her friend, it was more alarming to you as the reader – as who would go to such lengths just because they are intolerance of others who are not like themselves?

Mildred questions the thinkings of the church against her approach to witchcraft as she approaches the craft as a method of outreach to give goodwill back to the community. It was something that gave her pause whenever she was attending church and when she was around the most devout of the community. She was also cautious when she interacted with those who wanted to do more harm than good when it came to employing her talents. It showed her own dedication towards walking a path as a good witch and not one who would toil in the blacker depths of the black arts some of her kind might be more inclined. I loved how Pritchett had given Mildred such a strongly voiced character – she was both expressive of her opinions and she actively thought about everything which pulled at her soul which she felt was either an injustice or a slant against those like her who were devouted to their community but from a different approach than most.

One of the cheekier moments of the story is when Mildred would have to sing to redeem herself for her forgetfulness – a punishment her father coined in order to provide a bit of entertainment to his barber shop but also to give a bit of humility to his daughter. Yet, I had a feeling the father gained more from the musical performances than the Mildred did herself – as it wasn’t entirely enjoyed on her side of it as it was cheekily enjoyed by him. You never quite knew when this would happen and it was peppered into the background of the story as one of those family traditions that tucks itself into the rhythm of a character’s life.

As we follow Mildred and Mary about towne, we learn that not everyone in this community has benign intentions for the common welfare of others. There was an incident at a dinner party which proved to be quite the cautionary tale for how people can hold a grudge against others without the concern about other people’s welfare. Whilst shortly thereafter a death was announced which chilled Mildred and Mary because of how unexpected it was to hear there was a death. Concurrent to the conspiracies evolving behind them, Mildred was hiding her affections for someone as it wasn’t proper for her to disclose her feelings in a more open way. It was a difficulty for her throughout most of the story because she had to toll the balance between being a friend and finding herself affected as someone who was in love but without the benefit of disclosing the truth of it.

Mary’s Mum works as the midwife in the area and you get to hear about the births in the community whilst Mary’s family was a safe haven for Mildred. Their family understood Mildred and they gave her the motherly advice and counsel she dearly needed after having lost hers too soon. I felt Mildred and Mary were as close as sisters and it was there she could be openly honest about her thoughts and feelings where she couldn’t be with her father. They wouldn’t judge her and they gave her the kind of reception she wished she could have at home. I loved how congenial Mary’s family was and how they loved Mildred unconditionally as much as they embraced her talents without prejudgements.

When the dead start to collect in numbers, the further we see how Mildred’s guilt starts to takeover her conscience and the weight she has on her shoulders about how to give the police the information she has to impart without compromising herself or the trust she has within the community. It was an interesting thread of interest – as Mildred reached out to the black community to those who practice voodoo and was hoping that perhaps their insight into the wider scheme of how society would view alternative practices of religion and spirituality. It also highlighted the discrepancies between the two classes and how they each had their set of adversities but Mildred could move easier within society than they could due to heightened prejudice against them. This is another thread of how real life and real historical issues are etched into the background of Mildred’s journey – they were presented in the context of the historical era we’re visiting with Mildred and I felt Pritchett handled the historical authenticity quite well indeed.

Roger (the character with Downs Syndrome; though never identified in the text you can infer his condition by how Pritchett described him) was quite the endearing character within A Lock of Hair. I appreciated how Pritchette included his storyline in-line with Mildred’s and I was quite taken by the compassionate narration given to highlight his unique vocal and language skills. He was given equal time in the story and for most of it he was treated with the same equality of the rest of the characters; until his father started to keep him distant from Mildred. Roger felt real to me as I’ve interacted with different adults who have Downs and he seemed to have their attributes and personality to where you can easily identify him in the background. His own journey in this story rung true of families who felt it was better for children and/or adults like him to go away from home and how Pritchett handled this sensitive subject was compassionately written to own to those real-life stories.

I’ll admit, Chapter 22 took my full attention because although the disclaimer in the beginning mentinoned this was the chapter that might be a bit too intense for most of us to listen too – somehow, I felt I was prepard for what was going to happen and yet, I wasn’t. It was a brutal attack on Mildred – where the ignorance of men about witches and witchcraft took to violence against a defenceless young girl and they decided to alter her appearance. It was quite a shocking scene to listen to and I credit the narrator for softening it a bit despite the immediate trauma you felt on Mildred’s behalf.

The story was spilt in half between Mildred trying to uncover the truth behind the sudden deaths of those she knew in her community and the community itself leading an uprising against her as they hadn’t yet learnt from the recent past about not condemning witches. For all the good she intended and the good she wanted to do for others, what she received in return was a heinous crime against her person by those who were unable to see the truth of her circumstance. She was rallied and bolstered in strength by her closest friends Mary and her Mum, as well as Theodore (who was Roger’s brother) and her father. Theodore was caught between the actions of others and the murmurs of his own heart – as similar to Mildred, Theodore was a victim of circumstances not in his control.

I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I had been with the unexpected romance knitting together behind the main storyline featuring Mildred and Mary; although in many regards, it made perfect sense considering how I intuited the girls’ close friendship. I think they were far more surprised by the couple than I was myself – however, the ending was a fitting one given the circumstances. I was a bit surprised by how the villian in the story seemed to get off the hook without consequences of her actions but Mildred was given the best line to explain that sometimes things happen that you have to pray over to understand and in the end, those moments are out of your hands.

What I apppreciated the most was how Pritchett gave us a resolution and an ending which uplifted the joy of meeting her characters: Mildred and her father; Mary and her Mum; Theodore and his brother Roger – all of whom became a found family to each other throughout the story. I love plots with found families and the unconventional ways in which family can become the cornerstone of your life as it etches towards the fuller truth about how we’re meant to find each other in life and to remain steadfast in support of the family we find ourselves unconditionally supported by as we endeavour to live a life as authentically real as we have the confidence to embrace.

Pritchett wanted readers to see Mildred’s life as an example of how to own your own truth and to live your truth despite the persecution which might come from that bold step towards living your authentic life. Parts of the story were harder hitting than orders to where it was hard to reconcile what is being described but Pritchett never crossed that line where I felt she took us outside the scope of where this story was set and where it resided in Historical Fiction. She could have made it more graphic and descriptive but I was thankful she hadn’t as it allowed for the story to have its own depth of purpose within a realistic storyline without putting her readers in a discomfortable position.

One thing to note – the witchcraft itself takes a bit of a backseat when situations and circumstances arise which draw everyone’s attention to more pressing things than for Mildred to continue to practice her craft. It is still an important part of her life but this story is a transitional one for Mildred and those she cares about due to those circumstances which sought to change their lives forever. The best bit of course is the Epilogue – wherein we are given a fuller ending and one that made me smile as it truly was the ending I had hoped to see happen and Pritchett didn’t let me down.

on the historical styling of a. Rose Pritchett:

Ms Pritchett wrote a disclaimer for the story before you’re listening to it – about how given certain historical constructs within the story itself might rub modern readers the wrong way and these were highlighted as being potential ‘content warnings’. None of which dissuaded me from listening – however, I took a mental note about which chapter might be a bit more intense to get through (22) and what the individual concerns might be in the context of the story.

It doesn’t take too long to realise that there is a threading of distrust and misunderstanding with the Irish and this is a part of History I am quite familiar with myself as it is a topic that comes up quite often. I felt all the elements she disclosed at the beginning were handled well and as you listen to the story, you see the full message of what Pritchett wrote into the narrative itself – the hope for tolerance, the difficulties with prejudice and how others who hear or witness those acts against others must decide where they stand on those subjects themselves.

Pritchett has woven into her story a lot of lovely life lessons – about the work of the conscience on the person who is cognisant there is a connection between their thoughts and their actions; as much as how sometimes the choices you make in life have unforeseen consequences. I loved how she portrayed the role of Mildred – as a young witch who is caught in a plethora of intrigue which is difficult to unravel and to root out the truth. Mildred makes a wonderful amateur sleuth – leaning on her instincts and the passed down knowledge of her Mum.

I hadn’t marked this as a YA Historical Fiction story as for me it read more like a selection of Adult Historical Fiction. I’d advise given the subjects discussed within the story if a YA reader went to read or listen to this story, they’d know this fits more within the Upper YA section than Younger YA. In my listening experience I just didn’t connect this with a Historical YA world and felt this belonged next to any traditional Historical Fiction novel in the adult market.

Equality in Lit:

→ Special Needs Children (ie. Downs Syndrome)

→ Freed and/or runaway blackmen and women

→ Witches and the freedom to practice

→ Alternative Religions (ie. voodoo and witchcraft)

→ Immigrants and their struggles to adjust into society

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In regards to the audiobook, directly:

About Melanie Huesz

Melanie Huesz

Melanie Huesz is new to audiobook production and narration, but not new to performing. She has an MFA in acting and was a graduate fellow at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger. Before moving from the stage to the classroom, her acting roles included ingenues, leading ladies, and character roles.
As a middle school teacher and an avid audiobook listener with more than 300 books in her audio library, Melanie has seen the power of bringing books to life in her classroom and was inspired to return to performing through narration. Drawn to the world of YA, she has spent the summer recording three new novels aimed at young adults.

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is the first time I’ve listened to an audiobook narrated by Melanie Huesz.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the story:

Ms Huesz has a voice which captures your attention as you’re listening to her narrate A Lock of Hair. She does especially well at convicing you per her articulation of the accents within the story to peer back into History during a time of high suspicions, dangerious prejudices and the intriguing ways in which by being from the wrong country as an immigrant could cause unforeseen injustice against you and/or your family. The accent which you immediately recognise is Irish but I would also say how she voiced Mildred would parlay into how you’d think someone of the 17th Century might sound as well.

Her performance is spoken narrative but with a theatrical twist to it as I said, her voice lends itself to capturing your attention as you’re listening to the story. She has also etched out a layer of innocence and realism of the world beyond the characters in such sweet harmony as well. I know this is a credit to how Pritchett wrote the story itself but the narrator had to perform it, and Ms Huesz does it brilliantly.

Performance of individual characters:

Mildred: She is full of innocence but with the realistic truths of the world which surround her and she is very up front about what she understands of the world and the place / role she has within it. I found Mildred to be a charming character, not entirely the kind of woman I thought I might have met if I went back to the 17th Century, even though I know there are rebel women everywhere in History; Mildred simply breaks the mould of the type of person you’d expect to interact with because of how radically different she was raised. She’s a modern woman in the past with feminist leanings and a heart of compassion for others in her community.

Secondary Characters

Mary: She had one of those recognisable accents and she had a bit of innocence within her voice to match her innocent approach to trying to understand the witchcraft Mildred was teaching her to learn. Mary is the first predominate Irish voice you hear in your ears and she has a way of giving you a reason to think about the influences of Mildred and the misconstruments of those who want to follow her path – as despite the fact Mary is a willing student and friend, she doesn’t quite get the kind of witchcraft Mildred practices as she isn’t a natural witch as they say; it is something she will have to practice, study and learn.

Roger: As this character has Down Syndrome their voice would naturally sound ‘different’ than the other characters. I’ve talked and interacted with adults who have this sydrome and I could recognise the vocality of his speech quite immediately. It was a testament to the narrator how well Roger’s voice came through and gave you the impression his voice was authentic to himself.

Samuel: He was a black man with a Southern accent and I loved hearing him in the story. This is another example of how Huesz was able to portray different characters and own their identities. He offered a different perspective needed to help Mildred see the larger scope of what was happening round her and the prejudices therein.

On voicing men and women:

The way in which Huesz approached both genders in her narration gave you the full impression that this was a cast of both men and women. Not all narrators close the gap in tricking your ears to thinking you’re listening to a male character rather than a female narrator narrating in a male voice – this narrator felt like she had developed a more organic voice for her male characters and you could distinctively recognise which character was whom if they were a repeating character in the story.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

I enjoyed the brief overture of music at the start of the audiobook – from there, the story found traction and there wasn’t any other segues of music on the book itself. I almost wish there had been more musical interludes as it seemed to match the theme and the heart of the story so well.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

At first, when I was starting to listen to the story I thought perhaps having a book in hand on a second listening experience might be necessary, however, as I made my way through the story I much preferred listening to the narration of Ms Huesz rather than to muddle it with reading it myself. Thereby, I changed my opinion and decided that this is best to be heard in audiobook without the companion copy in print.

In closing, would I seek out another Melanie Huesz audiobook?

I definitely want to see what else she has narrated because she has a quirky style which fits stories like this one and I think even others in Contemporary settings. It will be interesting to see which of those other stories I will be keenly curious to hear as well as I do believe she is a strong narrator for the right kind of material when it comes to narrating stories. Her voice is brilliant at articulating accents and for handling multi-diverse cast of characters whilst also fusing you into the historic past and of voices that you might not be as well versed to hear in Contemporaries.

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

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Be sure to follow the blog tour route to see what else awaits you!

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Listening to this audiobook counted towards some of my 2020 reading goals:

2020 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.2020 Audiobook Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Whilst this marks my first entry for #RIPXV

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{SOURCES: Book Cover for “A Lock of Hair”, the biography and photos of A. Rose Pritchett and the narrator, Melanie Huesz; the author’s Q&A as well as the blog tour banner, the audiobook promo banner and the host badge were provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Audiobook Review banner, 2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge, 2020 Audiobook Challenge badge and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov in 17th Century, African-American History, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Boston, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Down Syndrome, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, History, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Special Needs Children

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