A Mute Boy, A Sunday School, A Bad Preacher and Rattle Snakes!,
This review is from: A Land More Kind Than Home (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)This is the first of what I hope are many novels from American `new comer' Wiley Cash - which is a great name by the way. He based it on a true story but has changed the location to fit with his own experiences.
It is the story of a mute boy `Stump' Hall, whose ma' is a member of a cult church. It is one of those that takes the Gospel from Mark absolutely literally and take to testing their faith by fire and snakes - makes `the Anglican schism' seem a bit over rated really. We are told of the story in an episodic fashion, but through the eyes and experiences of a variety of people.
The first is Adelaide Lyle and she sets the scene for a scarred, charismatic and scary preacher. She has removed herself from `church' to look after the children as the goings on in the church with the covered up windows, got too scary for young minds. Stump's younger brother, Jess, is enticed to take a peek at the service through a hole in the wall, where Stump is getting a healing session, and sees something he wished he had not. Folk in the Church think they are beginning a healin' of little Stump and so the Preacher tells her to bring him again that night for more of Gods love. This time he doesn't walk out.
The story is then picked up by Clem Baresfield the town Sherriff. He reveals a bit more about the people of the town and their pasts as well as what they would rather be kept hidden. This is done as more characters are brought into the story. By now events have taken a turn for the worse and some things will never be the same again.
I found that Wiley Cash has a way of writing the story that gets into the mind of all of the characters, whether he is writing as Jess - a nine year old or Adelaide who is in her seventies. I think that is some feat. You end up having sympathy for even the most offensive of the players and empathy when the good seed goes bad. This is also compelling and lyrical at the same time though not in an obvious way. It seems to be that the North Carolina influence seems to inform that if a story is worth telling, then there ain't no point in rushing it. And I must say it is better for it. I was happily surprised by how involved with this book I got. I know it took Wiley some years to write and I would just like to say it was time very well spent.