20 February 2014

Review: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley CashConfession time: I tried to read Wiley Cash's debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, three times--twice in print and once in audio. I don't know. Maybe it was my mood that year, but despite rave reviews from pretty much everyone on earth, it just didn't click with me.

Thank goodness I didn't give up on Cash altogether because once I started listening to his second book, This Dark Road to Mercy, I was totally hooked. From the authentic voice of Easter Quilby to the questionable motives of her father and the excitement of the 1998 home-run battle between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (pre-steroid scandal), Wiley Cash nicely overlays a moment in history with the defining weeks of a young girl's life.

  • Here's the gist: Twelve-year-old Easter Quilby and her little sister, Ruby, are adjusting to life in foster care after the death of their young mother. When their estranged father (Wade) suddenly decides he wants to be a parent, Easter is distrustful. Nevertheless, she slips out of bed in the middle of the night, leaving with Ruby for a new life. Meanwhile, two men are on their trail: one is a bad, bad man who has it in for Wade and the other is a broken man who is the girls' court-appointed guardian.
  • Easter: The bulk of the story is told by Easter, who is full up with mixed emotions, especially when it comes to Wade. It's amazing how perfectly Cash tapped into the heart and soul of the troubled, yet resourceful young girl. As is typical for preteens, Easter sees much, but doesn't fully understand all.
  • The men; the other voices: Brady Weller is a kind man who had some bad luck that ended his police career and his marriage. Maybe as compensation for having lost his relationship with his daughter, he takes a genuine interest in the girls' safety. Pruitt, on the other hand, has found a way to get paid to hurt the man who ruined his life. He's a creepy, thoroughly evil sociopath.
  • Other thoughts: From the moment Easter makes the decision to talk to Wade the first time, the tension slowly, exquisitely begins to build. You know that no good can come of this, yet you understand why Easter begins to fall under his spell. Although the core of This Dark Road to Mercy takes place over a handful of days, for Easter it must have seemed like a lifetime.
  • Recommendations: Don't miss This Dark Road to Mercy if you love Southern fiction, coming-of-age stories, and literary fiction. Although baseball is a running theme throughout the story, this is not a sports novel. It's about fathers and daughters, finding safety, and learning to cope (or not) with adversity.
  • Audiobook: The unabridged audiobook edition (Harper Audio; 7 hr, 53 min) is read by Jenna Lamia, Erik Bergmann, and Scott Sowers. Although my full audio review will be published by AudioFile magazine, let me give you a hint: this is a don't-miss listen. Lamia, especially, is superb.
HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780062088253
Source: Review--print and audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 2/20/14, 7:23 AM  

A Land More Kind Than Home is especially relevant this week as some evangelical preacher just died from a snake bite, the very stuff of Cash's story.

Elizabeth 2/20/14, 8:02 AM  

I did not click with his first novel, either - but I have considered trying this second. Now I think I will definitely give it a shot.

bermudaonion 2/20/14, 8:04 AM  

Too funny! I loved this book but didn't think it was quite as good as A Land More Kind Than Home. I predict a great career for Cash!

JoAnn 2/20/14, 8:23 AM  

I need to read Wiley Cash! Adding this to my audio wish list right now.

Beth Hoffman 2/20/14, 8:53 AM  

This one has been on my list since I first hear about it. Glad to know that you enjoyed it!

(Diane) bookchickdi 2/20/14, 8:59 AM  

i didn't read Wiley's first book, but I do love baseball, so maybe this one is for me.

Daryl 2/20/14, 11:19 AM  

sounds really good .. thanks!

Dana Tanaro Britt 2/20/14, 12:32 PM  

I loved the title of Cash's first novel but just wasn't compelled. This one sounds compelling...
Thanks for sharing :)

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 2/20/14, 9:22 PM  

I just got this book on my Kindle and can't wait to start it! I've heard so many great things about it and I love Southern fiction. Thanks for a great review!

Man of la Book 2/21/14, 11:24 AM  

A Land More Kind Than Home didn't resonate with me either (http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=7813), glad to read you liked Mr. Cash's new book - he certainly is talented.

Kailana 2/21/14, 11:43 AM  

I haven't tried him yet but I have definitely been seeing him around the blogosphere. One day!

Sandy Nawrot 2/21/14, 12:24 PM  

I think Cash is a real talent. He blew me away with his first book, and I have yet to read this one but I'm going to try to get it on audio. LOVE Jenna Lamia.

Nise' 2/21/14, 3:01 PM  

I started A Land More Kind Than Home on audio,switched to print before I finished on audio. I loved it and am glad I picked up the print or I may have quit listening. I've got this book in print.

Unknown 2/21/14, 11:08 PM  

I loved the audio of A Land More Kind Than Home, it was just wonderful. I read the second book in two days and also loved it but not as deeply as the first book. I was thrilled to meet Wiley Cash last weekend in Savannah, I believe his has a long writing career ahead.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 2/22/14, 7:45 AM  

Looking forward to this one; glad u enjoyed it.

Becca 2/23/14, 11:11 AM  

I have heard nothing but good things about this book!

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