A Land More Kind Than Home is Wiley Cash's debut novel. Cash is a native of North Carolina, where this novel takes place.
On a hot, lazy afternoon in the small town of Marshall, North Carolina, 9-year-old Jess Hall and his mute, older brother Christopher witness the pastor of their church cavorting with their mother - in their parent's bedroom. Their one brief, tiny glimpse of this episode changes the lives of both boys forever, especially when Pastor Chambliss attempts to "heal" Christopher of his muteness, but ends up killing him instead.
With the help of Clem Barefield - the sheriff of Marshall, and Adelaide Lyle - the local midwife, the townspeople begin to re-evaluate the true faith and motives of Pastor Chambliss.
A Land More Kind Than Home is an amazingly impressive first novel. I have to admit - growing up with a lack of religious upbringing, and spending most of my life on the west coast (but with roots in Biloxi, Mississippi), I can't help but grow bored and weary with the topic of religion in any form. When the first chapter of this novel opens onto a church scene in North Carolina, I feared I would soon lose interest, but trudged ahead anyway.
What a smart decision on my part - I am very pleased and glad that I stuck with it!
The novel strongly captured my attention near the end of chapter 1 upon being introduced to Pastor Chambliss' snakes. Soon thereafter, I was hooked indefinitely after meeting Jess Hall's character in chapter 2. The rest of my time spent reading this novel passed in a blur all the way through to the end.
The author's writing style is exemplary, and is the very epitome of "show, don't tell," which results in an intense and rich reading experience. Everything about this novel - from the scummy Pastor Chambliss, to the townspeople, to Jess Hall's mother - are all very indirectly creepy. Nothing about this novel is predictable or cliched, and you'll have no idea what author Cash has in store for the characters until the very end.
In fact, A Land More Kind Than Home is so impressive and intriguing, that I found myself wanting to learn more about the author and his background, and the inspiration for his book. I found exactly what I wanted on Wiley Cash's website, which is linked here: Wiley Cash - Bio, and definitely worth the read.
Should you read A Land More Kind Than Home? YES!! No matter who you are, where you're from, or what your favorite literary genre is, this novel is a masterpiece, so you better be the first person in your book club to read it. I've read the sales pitches that compare Wiley Cash to authors Tom Franklin and John Hart, but I think A Land More Kind Than Home is faaaaaar more interesting and engaging than Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
I'm actually genuinely excited for this novel's official release, and I truly hope it gets the attention it deserves! Click here to learn more about the book on Amazon.com: Amazon: A Land More Kind Than Home
Wiley Cash mentions in his bio that authors Clyde Edgerton and Gail Godwin, among others, have been influential in his work. Click on the images of the books below to review their work in more detail on Amazon.com.
Also, here is our review on Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter:
Dreamworld Book Reviews - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
What did you think about A Land More Kind Than Home? What other novels does it remind you of? Share your comments with us below!