I love the mountains of Western North Carolina, having been born there and spending my junior and senior high school years there.  As a result of my love of the unique Appalachian region of North Carolina, I usually enjoy most books set in those mountains.  “A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel” by Wiley Cash was an engrossing story set deep in the mountains of Madison County in North Carolina.

This book, which is told in narrative form by three of the book’s characters, will stick with me long after finishing it.  “A Land More Kind Than Home” is a sad story basically centered around a church, the pastor of the church, and the tragic ways that he leads the members of the congregation.  While Chambliss, the pastor, is not one of the story’s narrators, it is his actions and leadership that create much of the basis for the story.  The  members of the secretive church, where the windows are covered so that outsiders cannot see what is going on, are led down dangerous roads, one of which involves handling snakes as a way of expressing their faith in what God will do to protect them.

One of the church members, Julie Hall, has two children, the older of which was born mute.  Chambliss leads Julie to believe that Stump, the nickname of the silent boy, can be healed.  It is during this healing service that things happen which get the story rolling, and rolling fast.

Jess, Stump’s younger brother; Clem, the Sheriff in the county; and Adelaide, the town midwife and protector of the community’s children, are the narrators.  Each tell the story from their own viewpoint, developing the various characters in the story and sharing how past events tie into the story.  Many intriguing themes running through this novel but mainly centering around very complex and interesting relationships, how people will follow charasmatic church leaders even as they lead them with very questionable theology, and how God can still be at work even when it seems He isn’t.

While I felt the story started slow, it becomes very engrossing and is hard to put down.  It is great Appalachian storytelling, it is great Southen fiction, and it is a great read.  This is Wiley Cash’s first novel and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  I am eagerly awaiting Wiley Cash’s next book.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being great, I give “A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel” a 5.

A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel

Wiley Cash

William Morrow (publishers)

2012

ISBN 9780062088147

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