As you will soon see, I felt very strongly about this one. I can be a lenient reviewer, but hateful stereotypes really set me off. Unfortunately, that’s what I found in this new series.
Still Knife Painting is a new series about Miranda Trent, who has inherited her Uncle’s homestead in Kentucky, in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest. She starts a unique business for tourists called Paint ’n Shine, providing a package which includes a scenic painting class, a Southern dinner, and a moonshine tasting.
I was excited to read this because like the protagonist, Miranda, I lived elsewhere, but spent all my summers in the mountains with my relatives, who were Appalachian locals (in my case from the mountains of North Carolina). Unfortunately my expectations for this book fell far short. The main character Miranda is very unlikable. Miranda is supposed to be from a local family, even though she has been living in New York, so she should have some empathy and understanding for the locals. Instead she looks down on them and is downright rude at times. Her thoughts are shown in italics, and are usually something mean about others. I really hated the approach of presenting her thoughts in italics, because whenever I saw italics coming up, I knew it was probably going to be something cruel or condescending.
Then there were the ridiculous stereotypes presented in this book. When the Sheriff’s Deputy showed up and is described as a “Barney Fife,” I rolled my eyes back in my head. Then he passed out at a crime scene. Too cheesy. Too ridiculous. Mountain people are not stupid. They are not Barney Fife. The police do not pass out at the scene of a crime. I really wanted to put the book down at that point.
In addition, she should have some understanding of the rich culture and traditions of the locals. Very little of that is brought forth. Instead she is rude, condescending, and standoffish with the locals. As someone whose families are locals, Miranda should at least have been sharing a lot more of the cultural stories and traditions of the area. Miranda is starting a business involving art, distilling moonshine, and cooking, but she doesn’t really spend much time tying that in with the rich history of each of these things in the mountains. We could have learned something in this book besides how the main character is annoyed and affronted by everyone and everything. A lot of potential was lost in this series. Her constant denigration of the locals really ticked me off. I know the locals in my mountain town to be loving, smart, resourceful, and talented. The book’s presentation of mountain locals as stupid, inconsiderate people who supposedly tried to limit Miranda’s art is really offensive.
And by the way, young people are taught to say “yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” in the South. It’s automatic. This is not an “insider/outsider” thing and should not have annoyed Miranda. After spending all her summers in this area, she should have known this. Miranda spent a lot of time complaining about the insider/outsider perception in the mountains. Although there is some of that, nobody in any town anywhere is going to open up to a rude person who looks down on others. At the same time she is complaining about the insider/outsider perception, she complains that mountain people share too much of their personal lives with her! This is contradictory.
There is no real strong cast of characters as there would be in a small town. Just another of many disappointments. None of the characters are memorable for me except Miranda, and that is only because of her horrible personality.
What started out as a series with potential fell flat for me. I will not be interested in reading anymore of these books. I cannot find anything likable about the main character. I was excited to see a series set in the Appalachian Mountains. That excitement faded pretty quickly.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
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