Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home

"This novel...delivers a punch worthy of Mohammed Ali."


Adelaide Lyle is a woman not to be reckoned with. The church has always flowed through her veins but she has not attended a service for the last ten years. Instead she looks after the young children, trying desperately to guard them from a more immediate threat – Pastor Carson Chambliss. Adelaide dislikes the pastor and the way he conducts his sermons, especially the part with the rattlesnakes. One day, Adelaide’s friend was found dead in her garden, but Adelaide knows she was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake right there in Chambliss’ place of worship. She does not agree with Chambliss’ practices – not one little bit. So she protects the young – or tries to.

Jess Hall is nine. His father is strict and his mother is god-fearing. He has a brother, Christopher who is older but doesn’t speak. He is a mute, autistic boy who follows Jess around. Jess loves his brother. Then one day his mother takes Christopher to Chambliss’ place of worship and through a hole in the wall Jess witnesses a truly horrific event as his brother is ‘healed’ by Chambliss with catastrophic effect.

Clem Barefield is the town sheriff and knows everyone under his protection. Soon he is catapulted in to a situation that will blow the town is has sworn to protect, apart.

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‘A Land More Kind Than Home’ is one of those novels that resonates and for me, sent a chill down my spine, not due to any twist in the tale, but because the story is so ‘human’. This is a novel about religion and the abuse of power that comes when some who hold religion as the true means of the living and the righteous but are simply acting out their own power game. Cash subtly embodies all that is wrong with the fanaticism of religion in Pastor Chambliss, a man who never practices what he preaches. The wonderful thing about this novel is how Cash gives his three main protagonists such clear and individual voices. The opening of the book through the eyes of Adelaide is so potent and powerful that it is a shame that we do not hear more of her through the book. Her voice is mainly at the beginning and end of this novel. The main is voiced by Jess and the author is to be commended that he is able to see through the eyes of a child and does not fall in to the usual trap of looking through the eyes of a child with the attitude of an adult. Again, Jess’ voice is clear, innocent and not quite sure what it is exactly he is witnessing during his brother’s ‘healing’. I guarantee you will be thinking about this novel for days after you have finished the final page. This novel flexes its muscles and with breath-taking prose delivers a punch worthy of Mohammed Ali.

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