Southern Gothic

This Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash

Posted in American Fiction, Literary Fiction, Southern Gothic on January 30th, 2014 by admin – 4 Comments


  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (30 Jan 2014)
  • Source: NetGalley
  • My Rating: 4.5 stars

Having been very impressed by Wiley Cash’s debut novel A Land More Kind Than Home, I was really looking forward to This Dark Road to Mercy.  As in his first novel, he manages to pack a lot into a relatively short read at 240 pages.  Set in North Carolina, this is a compelling story about family ties as well as family breakdown alongside a convincing depiction of the innocence of childhood.

Narrated by a compact cast of characters, each with their own distinctive voice, this bleak tale of  loss and redemption grips the reader from the opening pages when we hear the  story of twelve year old Easter Quillby.  Easter is an unforgettable narrator who never sinks into self-pity even when disclosing the worst parts of her life so far with her six year old sister.  The two girls are not long in foster care before their wayward father, Wade,  arrives to disrupt their lives once more.  What follows is a well-paced, gripping narrative involving a particularly nasty hitman named Bobby Pruitt who is determined to settle an old score.

Wiley Cash is fast becoming one of my favourite authors as his two novels have more than satisfied my predilection for Southern Gothic.  His characterisation is spot on especially for Easter and Wade – Easter with her self-assurance, guts and determination and Wade, the washed up former minor league baseball player, who has made and, indeed, continues to make mistakes.  The bleak and stark nature of  the story with its unremitting tension is balanced with the remote possibility of redemption.

With echoes of Cormac McCarthy, especially No Country for Old Men, this novel sees Cash going from strength to strength.  More please!!

You can discover more about the author at his website here.

Wiley Cash

Photo by Tiffany B. Davis

  • Share/Bookmark