Length: 8 hours and 56 minutes
Source: Borrowed from the library
A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past—A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.
Here’s what I thought:
I requested this book on NetGalley a while back after reading lots of positive reviews, but the publisher sent me a e-book version which I couldn’t read on my kindle. So, I ended up downloading the audiobook from my library instead and I’m really glad I did. I loved the multi-voiced narration–especially the performances of Loma Raver and Mark Bramhall, who voiced Adelaine and Clem, respectively.
It took me a while to get into the book, though, as the action is quite slow-paced. A lot of time is spent building the atmosphere of the small mountain town in North Carolina where the story takes place, as well as introducing the characters and their back stories. The story skips around in time as well as switching points of view, so there were a few times when I got confused as to what was happening and when.
Having grown up in the South (in a small town in the foothills of the Appalachians), I tend to be very picky about Southern literature. This book rang true to me, for the most part, but I think I was perhaps less shocked by some of the character portrayals and plot points simply because I could relate to them more than the average reader. I didn’t go to a snake-handling kind of church, but I did grow up in a very rural, religious place. I kept waiting for something huge and shocking to happen, but all the suspense that builds up around one character in particular never really goes anywhere, and while sad, I found the ending to be somewhat anti-climactic.
My favorite parts of the book were the personal back stories of Adelaide and Clem, and my least favorite was the modern-day scenario with the pastor and the Hall family. I thought the writing was good, but I’m not sure the story fulfilled its promise in terms of action and resolution. (And on a very personal side note, I couldn’t stand the narrator that played Jess. I don’t think this is the actor’s fault, necessarily, but I have a really hard time with adult actors doing the voices of child characters. It just didn’t work for me at all, and his accent was a bit over the top.)
All in all, I would recommend this novel for anyone who appreciates Southern literature with a dark side.
Thanks so much to NetGalley, Transworld and Black Swan Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book.
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