Title: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Imprint: William Morrow
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: A+ and A Recommended Read
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through Edelweiss
A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past—A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.
Wiley Cash’s debut novel A Land More Kind Than Home is a spectacular and powerful story that brings life in rural North Carolina to vibrantly to life. Set in the 1980s, it is an profound tale of dark secrets, a charismatic evangelical minister and the evil that is sometimes wrought in the name of religion.
Told in first person from three of the key players’ perspectives, the horrifying events surrounding Christopher Hall’s heartbreaking death are revealed. The story begins from midwife and longtime Marshall resident Adelaide Lyle’s point of view. As the midwife who delivered Christopher and a member of Reverend Carson Chambliss’s congregation, her life is irrevocably interwoven with the Hall family and the Reverend. It is through her voice we learn of the inexplicable acts of faith healing that are practiced by the Reverend’s congregation that sometimes end with tragic results. We also learn much of the church’s, the town’s and the Hall’s family history from Adelaide’s recollections of the past.
Well aware of some of the goings on in the Chambliss church, Sheriff Clem Barefield’s hands are tied when it comes to probing into what happens behind the church’s closed doors until Christopher’s untimely death. As is so often common in small towns, the Hall family and the Sheriff’s paths have also crossed and they, too, are linked by a past tragedy. His investigation into Christopher’s death opens old wounds and forces Clem to share an unimaginable bond with Christopher’s grandfather, Jimmy.
The most innocent voice in novel is that of young Jess Hall but his is the voice that resonates most throughout the recounting of the circumstances leading up to Christopher’s death and the situations that follow. He and Christopher are typical children whose curiosity about the actions of the adults in their lives sets in motion the terrible chain of events that leads to Christopher’s death.
The true villain of A Land More Kind Than Home is Reverend Carson Chambliss. He is a charismatic man who makes the most of the opportunities presented to him and he fully exploits his followers’ faith to suit his own needs. What are his motivations for using faith healing on the mute Christopher Hall? Is it to cast out the demons who are keeping him from speaking? Or his reason something far more sinister-an attempt to keep a dark and potentially devestating secret from ever being revealed?
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash is a captivating novel that spotlights the evil that can sometimes lurk in the guise of religion. It is a sometimes harrowing tale that details the loss of innocence and the tragedy that not only befalls the Hall family but an entire town and a fanatical church. But it is also a beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption that will linger long after it comes to an utterly unexpected and stunning conclusion.