One Sunday nine-year-old Jess Hall watches in horror as his autistic brother is smothered during a healing service in the mountains of North Carolina.
Wiley Cash uses this haunting image – inspired by a horrific true event – to spin us into a spellbinding, heartbreaking story about cruelty and innocence, and the failure of faith and family to protect a child.
This is a novel thick with stories and characters connected by faith, infidelity, and a sense of hope that is both tragic and unforgettable.
What I Thought:
A Land More Kind Than Home is, ultimately, a tragedy. From start to finish it’s like seeing a car crash happen, and you can’t turn away. A seemingly innocent Sunday outing ends with a small boy witnessing his brother’s death, and his carrying his wrongly apportioned guilt for not stopping it with him for the rest of the book.
This is most definitely not a book where a hero comes in at the end and wraps things up, it’s just…sad. By the end, there has been death, infidelity, and a real sense of evil, but it all boils down to adults doing what the hell they like, and leaving children to live with the consequences.
The book is told by three characters, Jess, whose mute brother Christopher has been smothered at a church meeting, Adelaide Lyle, the town matriarch figure, who has had a run in with the new preacher, and Clem Barefield, town Sheriff and keeper of his own tragedies. This style of storytelling worked well, with each narrator giving a new dimension to the events leading up to, and from, Christopher’s death.
Although a short novel, it really packs a punch, beautifully conveying the sense of a small, Southern town that puts the church above all else, even when that church and its reputation are called into question. Definitely a slow, atmospheric burn rather than an exploding plot and resolution, it’s definitely a novel to immerse yourself in,
A Land More Kind Than Home is published by Black Swan.To find out more about Wiley Cash and his subsequent books, check out his website.
Note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes, but all opinions are, as ever, my own.