“A Land More Kind Than Home” by Wiley Cash / Wednesday, October 10, 2012 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.

Evil cannot be hidden behind newspaper-covered windows.

Why Clay Stafford chose this book:

Told from three points of view, “A Land More Kind Than Home” by debut author Wiley Cash chronicles a tragic incident in Marshall, North Carolina, a small bump in the road in Madison County adjacent to the Tennessee border. A death occurs, people look away, but atonement for that death will not be ignored.

You can’t have a Southern novel without a church because in many parts of the South, the church is the hub of town life. Used to be and, in many places, still is. As one of the characters states: “People out in these parts can take hold of religion like it’s a drug, and they don’t want to give it up once they’ve got hold of it.”

It is tempting for me to detail events in this story, but it would only ruin the story build should you decide to read the book. Instead, I want to chronicle my reaction.

This book will tear your heart out. I read it in one sitting. I think I passed through every emotion possible. At times my eyes watered. At times I wanted to jump into the book and backhand someone. I felt myself mentally screaming, “No! No! No!” to characters about to do something. Rare is the prose that can evoke that kind of visceral passion. It has been a long time since I’ve read anything this demonstratively intoxicating. It covers the gamut: The rush of power. The need to believe. The desire to protect. The yearning to forget. Forgiveness. And hope. Maybe that’s the strongest.

In a reference to all the bad things that happen to good people, one character explains, “You can’t make sense of everything. That ain’t the job of a man.” By the end, my shoulders were tense. I felt like I’d been beaten up, almost as though I was waiting for something else to jump out and grab me.

This is one of the most powerful stories I think I have ever read. It is Southern fiction – and literature – at its finest. You will not be able to put this book down. You have to read this book.

From Amazon:

“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 – 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.”

If you want to make your own comments on this selection, we would love to hear from you. Join ourFacebook Killer Nashville group page or our blog and join in the discussion.

Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville