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Then Like The Blind Man: ORBIE'S STORY
An Electrifying Portal To The South Of The 1950s.
Historical, Psychological, Religious, Paranormal and Supernatural, Suspense
November 27, 2013
A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s, and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world.
Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand, a fact that lands him at his grandparent's place in Harlan's Crossroads, Kentucky. Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit to keen on their black neighbors for Orbie's taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. Soon, however, he finds his worldviews changing, particularly when it comes to race, religion and the true cause of his father's death.
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Then Like The Blind Man / Orbie’s Story set in the segregated South of the 1950’s is a saga of high adventure and magical realism. Hamletmeets Huckleberry Finn or The Secret Life Of Bees meets Bastard Out Of Carolina are ways of describing it – a work of visual detail replete with spot on use by author Freddie Owens of the Southern vernacular and a sensitive, natural channeling of a boy narrator.
Feisty nine-year-old Orbie Ray hates his stepfather even more than he does mean colored kids with knives – a fact that lands him at Harlan’s Crossroads, there to spend a drought summer on his grandparent’s dirt farm while his family travels on to Florida’s sunny climes. Resentful, fearing for his naively religious mother, Orbie pines for the return of his dead father. To make matters worse, he must now deal with his maverick ‘nigger loving’ grandparents and the black Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers they are a part of.
We follow the boy as he struggles and succeeds at making friends among the colored boys of Kingdom Church – as he then wanders the hills and hollers of Kentucky tormented by visions of his father’s murderer, encountering soothsayers, bizarre electrical phenomena and backwater bigots along the way. A black Choctaw preacher-man introduces him to a power potent enough to destroy his enemies yet inaccessible to anybody motivated by revenge. Thus, when his family returns and the crimes of the stepfather come to light, the boy finds himself walking straight way into a storm of unusual meteorological and psychological magnitude, compelling him to unravel his own hatreds and the riddle of the power.
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