Book Review: This Dark Road to Mercy

17349104Wiley Cash has once again created a page burner in This Dark Road to Mercy.

With a similar structure to A Land More Kind Than Home, the reader is this time treated to another tale and battle between good and evil but now with two sisters, an ex-detective and an often absent father on paths that converge to battle one bad ass dude.

Easter and Ruby are left (somewhat) orphaned after their mother’s pervasive drug addiction takes her from them at a very early age. Their father, Wade, has been absent for most of their lives, and has indeed signed a court document relinquishing his parental rights to the girls. It is a document he is now sorely saddened to have signed and is desperate to have the girls returned to him now that their mother is gone.

Wade isn’t the greatest stand-up guy around and has done quite a few bad things in his past, and most recently has stolen a vast amount of cash and is desperate to get his girls back. He feels his only option is to steal them in the middle of the night and spend the rest of his days trying to turn his wrong by them into a right.

Brady Weller is an ex-detective turned home security salesman and also a volunteer guardian. He is also Easter and Ruby’s court appointed guardian. He is now on the chase to find and bring back Easter and Ruby. Mixed into all of this is the one big, huge and juiced up dude named Robert Pruitt. While Pruitt is essentially hired to recover the stolen cash from Wade, it’s only a quarter of the real reason he wants to get his hands on Wade.

While the bad guy in this story wasn’t anywhere near as evil, or gave me the creepy, scared feeling the way Pastor Chambliss did in A Land More Kind Than Home, Easter is a well-written, wizened old-soul and her story and her fight to keep her sister safe and loved is one that will tear at your heartstrings. This Dark Road to Mercy also has an ending with a few unexpected twists that will leave you with a few tears staining your face. Another great read and I’m once again looking forward to more from Mr. Cash! (and to discovering what intriguing title is given to it. I love his uniquely named novels.)

Audiobook Review: A Land More Kind Than Home

This book has it all!! Crazy Southerners, a religious cult, a charlatan in preacher’s clothes, mysterious deaths, cheating spouses, a stoic sheriff, a nosy old lady, domestic violence, a drunk grandfather, a mute child and kissing snakes in the name of Jesus– WOW!! By the end you were holding your breath waiting for the next Jack-in-the-box surprise to pop out at you!! It was all so masterfully done!

Audio was DEFINITELY the way to go for this one– Blackstone Audio had 3 FANTASTIC narrators in Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver and Mark Bramhall. The story is told from 3 different perspectives and there was a narrator for each one. This made the story come to life all that much more! Such a great job!!

Penny wrote a wonderful review of this book a couple of months ago and I really could not say any more than that except: well done to Wiley Cash for a fantastic first novel and go and get the audiobook ASAP!! 4 stars for me. Penny’s far superior review here!

Audiobook Review: A Land More Kind Than Home

Another superb Southern debut!!

Good + evil + snakes + two brothers = an excellent read!

It is just as JC Patterson, writing for the Madison County Herald, has to say, “His debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, will grab you in its clutches like a boxed-up rattlesnake at a church healing.”

Amen to that! It opens with a hiss and a rattle and ends with a bang!

Wiley Cash’s writing is simply marvelous. He pays such close attention to those finer details, giving you the sights, the sounds, even the smells of the deep South. My very favourite part, aside from hearing about the sounds of the crickets, the smell of the mud, the look of the Blue Gum trees, the darkness of the sky and the sound of thunder in the distance, was the description of the hundreds of snake skins being rustled by the breeze coming through the slats on the barn wall and that sound being compared to the sound that dead corn stalks make swaying in the wind.

I was very, very pleased (and so impressed with) I listened to this on audio.  It is superb on audio as there are three different narrators voicing the three perspectives from which this story is told. Fantastic narration by all three and truly, truly makes this novel sing! This audiobook was the winner of the  J.L.K. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award. Absolutely worthy of the award! Mr. Cash’s book itself is worthy of the heaps of praise that it is receiving.

Adelaide: is the first person you hear from when opening A Land More Kind Than Home. She is the elderly midwife & moral historian in town. Addie is whom provides all the background and history and is the one to know straight away what evil lurks inside Chambliss.

Lorna Raver is exceptional as Adelaide Lyle! Those first few chapters grab you with the story she starts to tell you and with that amazing voice!

Jess: Jess is the 7-year-old brother to Christopher, or Stump. Stump is a mute autistic boy that has never spoken a word in his life. Jess witnesses the tragic loss of his brother one afternoon and the subsequent crumbling of his family because of those events. The most touching moment for me (well outside of Stump’s death) was when Jess takes down Stumps “Quiet Box” (a box that his mother gave him to go off and sit with when he was feeling overwhelmed) from the closet and finds a little treasure Jess made him for Christmas resting on top of everything else in the box. So, so, so touching. The guilt with which Jess must live with after everything that happens to Stump will make you ache.

Jess is narrated by Nick Sullivan and not only does he do a fantastic job of becoming Jess as a 7-year-old (never ever once are you annoyed at a “boyish” voice being read by a grown man) I felt he brought the voice of the evil Pastor Chambliss to life with such greatness!

Clem: Sheriff Clem Barefield, still recovering from his own painful past and working to get to the bottom of this tragedy.  Mark Bramhall narrates Clem and you can just SEE with amazing clarity what this old southern sheriff looks like.

And of course, at the heart and centre of this story is Stump and Chambliss. Innocence and goodness vs evil.

This is an amazing debut (this is his first book??!!) – fine, fine, fine writing – I will be very interested in reading more from Mr. Cash! You can find more about him, and read those piles of praise on his site: wileycash.com. He’s on Facebook and Twitter too! He’s also making the rounds at book signings and readings in the South – if you’re nearby I hear he’s a real gem to listen to in person!

A definite Literary Hoarder’s approved book! If you are interested in reading other fine Southern reads, I highly recommend the following:

1.) If you want to stare evil straight in the face (and have nightmares!) once more like you do with Chambliss here above, you must, must pick up The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, by Jenny Wingfield. This is a must read!

2.) Another excellent Southern debut novel that came out this year and also deals with the incredible bond between two brothers is The Lost Saints of Tennessee, by Amy Franklin-Willis . You definitely will not be disappointed in this one either!

3.) And of course, the great one: Pat Conroy. His most recent, South of Broad is another goodie too!!

4.) If you’re looking to listen to a fine, fine audiobook about life in the South, I highly recommend listening to The Dry Grass of August, read by Karen White. Excellent!