HarperCollins Publishers|April 9, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-06-208814-7
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 see, an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It is 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 knows what 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 Barfield, 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.
Brothers Jess and Christopher are as close as any two siblings can be. Christopher is the oldest but is a deaf mute whom everyone has nicknamed Stump. Always in trouble for spying on adults, Christopher once again does some spying and sees something that was not meant for eyes of his age throwing him into confusion full of turmoil and angst.
The town minister, Pastor Chambliss believes in preaching with rattlesnakes and having the congregation prove their love, faith and trust in God by handling these snakes without fear of being bitten until one day just that happens. However, he manages to convince his congregants that the Lord just happened to call one Miss Molly Jameson home to glory that very day. It was during one of Pastor Chambliss’s services that he convinced Christopher’s mother that he could provide a ‘healing’ for his lack of speech that something terrible happened, leading to the heart-pounding conclusion to the story along with what Jess and Christopher saw that last day they were spying on their Momma and Daddy.
The town midwife, the lovely old Miss Adelaide had long taken the children out of the church and was holding Sunday services at her home for them as she didn’t trust Chambliss and all his goings-on at the church.
The author did an excellent job at conveying to the reader the emotions that people show when they’re riled up and in the spirit of the moment and how things can be over-looked when caught up in the emotion packed moment of loud music, hand clapping and rattlesnakes. A family is shattered, a town has hung its head in shame, and a lot of healing needs to take place in this small town of Marshall, North Carolina.
For a debut novel, Wiley Cash has written a book that grabs you, pulls you and doesn’t release its grip until the very unexpected end. I’ll be looking for more of this authors work and recommending this novel to my friends.