Wiley Cash's first novel A Land More Kind Than Home was a New York Times bestseller. It garnered rave reviews, and I remember putting it on my never ending must read list. Well, I never did get to it, but his second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, has just released in trade format - and I jumped at the chance to review it.
Twelve year old Easter and her six year old sister Ruby are now living in a foster home. Their mother has died and their father Wade signed away his parental rights years ago. But it is something in the way the man watching the ballgame Easter is playing that rings a bell.....it is Wade and he wants his girls to come with him. There's another man watching too - Wade has something that belongs to someone else. Pruitt will do whatever it takes to get that something back - and extract vengeance on Wade for an event from both their pasts. Easter, older and wiser beyond her years, makes a decision -and the three are on the run. There's a third man as well - Brady is the girls' court appointed guardian - and he too is on the trail of Wade and the girls.
I loved Easter's voice from the first line...."Wade disappeared on us when I was nine years old and then he showed up out of nowhere the year I turned twelve." She presents a hard exterior to the world, shielding herself and her sister from further hurt. Small vulnerabilities - wondering if a boy likes her for example, were all the more poignant as she is feeling her way through life without a parent.
Each of the characters in the book has a past - a past that influences the direction their present is taking. Wrongs that need righting, hopes, dreams, what could have been and what could be are entwined in the narratives of the three main characters. And somehow, to all three, this moment in represents redemption.
From the author's notes "....As a six-year-old, you're called a liar when you tell a story that you know isn't true. But if you can keep telling stories and wait just a few more years, people will eventually call you a writer. Even when they know your stories aren't true."
I think Cash is a great storyteller. This Dark Road to Mercy had mystery and suspense elements, but it was the characters themselves that captured me - especially Easter, with Wade a close second. The ending was absolutely perfect. (And I quiet enjoyed the baseball references.) Read an excerpt of This Dark Road to Mystery.
"Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. A native of North Carolina, he has held residency positions at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina. Find out more about Wiley on his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter."
See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.