My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Matt Johansson, a young New York actor, auditions for "Chapel of Ease," an off-Broadway musical, he is instantly charmed by Ray Parrish, the show's writer and composer. They soon become friends; Matt learns that Ray's people call themselves the Tufa and that the musical is based on the history of his isolated home town. But there is one question in the show's script that Ray refuses to answer: what is buried in the ruins of the chapel of ease?
As opening night approaches, strange things begin to happen. A dreadlocked girl follows Ray and spies on him. At the press preview, a strange Tufa woman warns him to stop the show. Then, as the rave reviews arrive, Ray dies in his sleep.
Matt and the cast are distraught, but there's no question of shutting down: the run quickly sells out. They postpone opening night for a week and Matt volunteers to take Ray's ashes back to Needsville. He also hopes, while he's there, to find out more of the real story behind the play and discover the secret that Ray took to his grave.
Matt's journey into the haunting Appalachian mountains of Cloud County sets him on a dangerous path, where some secrets deserve to stay buried.
Chapel of Ease is the one book in the series that felt less like "part" of the series as the story isn't really about the Tufa's future. The previous books have all felt a lot more like each story is bringing the Tufa story to some future conclusion. This one feels like an interlude. A really great interlude of course. But, it is more about the true story the musical is based on as well as Matts experiences in Needsville.
The Tufa legend plays a major part in the story since the musical that Ray Parrish has written and composed is about a story that happened years ago. Ray himself is Tufa and there are those that don't want him to put up a musical. However, Ray dies before revealing what is buried at the Chapel of Ease (the ending of the musical doesn't reveal it) and Matt the lead star of the musical travels down to Needsville with Ray's ashes and also to get the answer to what is buried at the Chapel of Ease.
So what is buried in the ruins of the Chapel of Ease? Well, you have to find out the truth by reading the book. All I can say that the book ended so perfectly that I mentally laughed and thought: "Bravo Alex Bledsoe, I should have seen that ending coming." I love it when an author manages to surprise me (in a good way)!
This is a book that felt like I breezed through quite quickly, it's a great joy finding a book series as good as this one and work through them all as I'm working at the same time!