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.
This was the novel that had been on my TBR for the longest time. We all have those books that have been around forever but we never seem to get to them… well, it’s about time! I’m trying to read more of my own books (at least one or two every month) and this month’s choice was A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.
If you’ve read the synopsis, you probably figured out that the evil preacher and the southern setting are what made me choose this book as soon as I found it. It’s basically about a cult with a handful of followers hiding suspicious deaths. When Jess’s brother Stump is the latest of the preacher’s victims, he tries to learn and understand what’s going on. He doesn’t get why his brother is dead and he isn’t sure if he saw something important.
We have three main narrators. First, there’s Jess, of course, and then we have the Sheriff, Clem Barefield, haunted by his son’s death, and Addie Lyle, an older woman who started suspecting that the preacher, Carson Chambliss, was not trustworthy many years ago. But no one seemed to believe her.
I read this book in Spanish and I think the translation wasn’t that good (or maybe I’ve been reading too many books in English lately), which sadly meant that I couldn’t enjoy the writing as I would’ve wanted, as it didn’t feel realistic. I think this aspect doesn’t matter that much with domestic suspense, for example, but in books like this where the location is practically another character, I think it’s better to read it in its original language.
The story and the dark atmosphere were top notch and I could feel the tension as if I were there as well. I wouldn’t say this was a real mystery, as you know what’s been happening from the very beginning, but it was still suspenseful and the ending chapters had me on the edge of my seat. It was quite a captivating story, no doubt about that. Maybe not as unforgettable as I expected, but definitely worth a read…
William Morrow, 2012