Reader reviews for A Land More Kind Than Home

A most evocative story of a Southern slice of life that revolves around the impact of an extreme evangelical church in a small town, and the power of one person to introduce evil. Told from three points of view, the author is skilful in making each narrator distinct, particularly the nine year old boy. The fact that the apparently inevitable tragedy is pretty clear from the start in no way diminishes the strength of the story, and although the ending is a bit abrupt, its positive message lingers with the reader.
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It's hard to believe this is Wiley Cash's debut novel. The plot and storytelling both shine. The story is centered around a secret in a small town populated with typical characters including the evil preacher, the devout followers, the skeptics, the disenfranchised, and the drunk and disorderly. The characters are crisp and distinct and fully actualized - no two-dimensional or filler folks to be found. The plot is suspenseful and includes just enough side details to keep you interested and guessing how it will all come together. But the real beauty of A Land More Kind than Home is in the writing. Cash somehow immerses the reader into small town Appalachia. Every word feels slow and humid and desperate and tobacco-steeped. It's a book to be savored on a slow Sunday afternoon.
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This debut novel was pretty good. In fact, I would have given it four stars until the last few pages, when a character's religious beliefs started to feel like authorial intrusion, and I felt lectured to... Still, well worth reading for the compelling story, the fresh and often gorgeous prose.
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My goodness but this book was fantastic! His use of local color and dialect, his descriptions, his use of the weather to ratchet up the tension, and all this from a first time author. The town midwife, Adelaide, who sees it as her job to protect the children, the sheriff, who has plenty of tragedy in his own life, and the two young boys, Jess, who is in third grade, and his older but mute brother, Christopher. When evil comes to their small Appalachian town in the form of itinerant preacher, Chambliss, events are set in motion that will leave few unscathed. Two boys would pay for their natural curiosity in a way that is out of all proportion to their misdeed. I knew this story drew me in when I found myself wanting to grab one of the characters and tell them not to do it. I felt the tension in the pit of my stomach, like the way one feels before the big drop on a roller coaster. Yet in ends in a note of hope and a looking forward to that I would not have thought possible. Absolutely gripping!
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Loved this book. The tension built quietly but continuously. If you liked the way the characters were developed in Crooked letter, Crooked letter, you'll like the character developement in this as well.
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Loved it. Cash has a wonderful way of telling a story, and keeping you riveted the entire time.
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In his debut novel author Wiley Cash tells a chilling tragic tale from the view points of three of the main characters. The first is from Adelaide Lyle, an town's elderly midwife and healer who finds that the things that have been taking place at their local church isn't something that the children should be a part of. When she confronts the pastor, Carson Chambliss, he relents to having the children spend time with her but only if she is willing to keep the secrets of the church to herself. Seeing herself as the children's only protector, she agrees.The second part of the story continues with a young boy named Jess who has an older brother Christopher that was born a mute. Earning the nickname Stump, which the reader will learn about later in the book, the spend their lazy summer days hunting down salamanders and just being boys in Madison County. Everything was going along perfect until Jess and Christopher spied on his mother one day and after that, nothing would ever be the same again.The final part of the book picks up with the local town Sheriff, Clem Barefield, who has a bitter and painful past of his own being a sheriff and resident in the small rural town of Marshall. The reader will learn how this man is interconnected with the case of a lifetime when he's called into investigate a murder. What happens then will completely change everyone's lives forever.I received A Land More Kind Than Home compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. This was an interesting story with a unique twist I can't give away but once you begin reading, the story hooks you until the very final page. In all honesty I didn't see how this plot would turn out in the end, and think that Wiley Cash did a masterful job at creating a book that readers will enjoy for his debut. I rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars and for those that love a bit of suspense with their murder mystery in a town that doesn't want to share their secrets, then this is a must read for you.
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This is a touching and well written novel about two young brothers, their parents and grandpa, a fundamentalist church with its charismatic but evil preacher, and the local sheriff. It has a wonderful sense of place and a good feel for its characters. The story is told from multiple points of view, but still manages to be sequential (rather than repetitive). I liked it and will look forward to more from Mr Cash.
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As lyrical, beautiful, and uncomplicated as the classic ballads of Appalachia, Cash’s first novel is a tragic story of misplaced faith and love gone wrong, set in the mountains of North Carolina. The River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following is a secretive place, with newspapers taped over the windows so you can’t see in, and the minister, Carson Chambliss, is often seen on a Sunday morning carrying cages made of wood and chicken-wire into the building. Still, the neighbors pay little attention until an autistic child becomes the victim of a special healing service, and the local sheriff launches an investigation. Told in three voices-of the sheriff; the child’s younger brother, Jess; and an elderly church member, Adelaide Lyle-the tragedy unfolds and compounds upon itself as the backgrounds of the major players are revealed and each reacts as conscience and faith demand. Summary BPLMy usual complaint: over 300 pages to tell what is essentially one of those dark short stories from the South. A lot of (gratuitous, in my opinion) creepiness with pyromaniacal Pastor Carson Chambliss and his snakes puts the story over the top. It strained my credulity and made it challenging to connect to characters who would put up with Chambliss’ carney-style religion/frenzy.Having said that, I would welcome another opportunity to read something in a different genre by Wiley Cash. In A Land More Kind Than Home, he achieves a colloquial style that is so pleasant—elegantly styled?—to read: both natural and a heightened reality style at the same time—somewhat like Tennessee Williams, whose dialogue could be quite simple on the surface, but like an iceberg, most of the substance is below the water. However, I could do without the shifting POVs whose only purpose seemed to defer the reader’s knowledge of the book’s inevitable tragedy. This is a useful technique in short stories but annoying/jarring when deployed in a full length novel. Young protagonist Jess Hall is a beautifully drawn character: he deserves another/better story.6.5 out 10 Recommended to Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy fans.
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Southern fiction often reminds us that evil exists where we least expect to find it and that we let our guards down at our own risk. Wiley Cash’s disturbing debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, set deep inside the rural North Carolina of the mid-eighties, takes this approach. There is plenty of evilness in Cash’s story, and most of it is buried in one charismatic preacher’s heart.Sometimes nine-year-old Jess Hall, even though he has an older brother, feels like he is the oldest child in the family. His brother, who carries the unfortunate nickname “Stump,” is severely autistic and has never spoken. Jess loves Stump dearly and has routinely assumed the burden of watching out for his brother when the two of them are outdoors on their own. But one day Jess cannot protect Stump from the evil that has entered their home. And, although Jess curses the momentary cowardice that led him to run off and abandon Stump to his fate, he will fail Stump one more time – with tragic consequences. A Land More Kind Than Home explores the power of deeply held religious faith to blind true believers to the evil within those whom they trust the most. Pastor Chambliss, whose church the boys’ mother attends, has a criminally checkered past and is not a man to tolerate people spying on him. Unfortunately, Jess and Stump, who greatly enjoy the thrill of spying on adults, inadvertently do spy on the preacher one day, with lasting consequences that will impact their entire community.This is a story of good vs. evil, one that explores what can happen when evil is allowed to have its way unchallenged. It is about a community’s responsibility to protect its children even when their mother fails to do so. It is about secrets, the kind that can get people killed, ruin marriages, or allow one man callously to exploit for decades those who trust him most. It is Southern fiction at its best, and Wiley Cash has claimed a well-deserved spot for himself within the genre. Rated at: 4.0
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