Hardcover, 240 pages
This Dark Road to Mercy, is a tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, a story that involves two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.
When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter Quillby and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a little town not far from the Appalachian Mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex–minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly reappears and steals them away in the middle of the night.
Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and quickly turns up unsettling information linking him to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn't the only one hunting him. Also on the trail is Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, a man determined to find Wade and claim what he believes he is owed.
The combination of Cash's evocative and intimate Southern voice and those of the alternating narrators, Easter, Brady, and Pruitt, brings this soulful story vividly to life. At once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a testament to the unbreakable bonds of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash is very highly recommended.
Wiley Cash's latest novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, is set in Gastonia, North Carolina where two sisters, twelve year old Easter and six year old Ruby Quillby, are placed in the foster care system after their mother dies. It's 1998 and Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire and trying to break Roger Maris' home run record. Easter is following this competition along with her friend Marcus and the rest of the country when her father, Wade Chesterfield, shows up unexpectedly and kidnaps the girls. The problem is that Wade signed over any legal rights to the girls years before and they haven't seen him for at least three years. If that's not enough, there is a bigger problem. Wade has stolen a lot of money from a local thug who wants it back so he sets a bounty hunter on Wade's trail. But this bounty hunter, Robert Pruitt, relishes finding Wade for the money and for revenge: it's personal and he has a score to settle. The girls' court-appointed guardian, ex-police office Brady Weller, is also trying to find Wade and the girls.
The story is told through three very different narrators: Easter, Pruitt, and Brady. Easter is a girl on the path to maturity who struggles to understand the world around her. She is trusting and doubting, cocky and insecure - just like any 12 year old - only she is under a tremendous amount of pressure and isn't sure she can truly trust her father. Pruitt is one scary mean, vindictive evil guy and the tension mounts as he looks for Wade. It looks like the girls will just be collateral damage if they get in his way as he seeks to eliminate Wade once and for all. Brady is a good guy beaten down by circumstances. He's trying to fine redemption after the terrible accident that had him leaving the police force. And the girls' father, Wade, is a washed-up minor league ball player whose attempt to do something right has been set on a crooked track right at the start.
The characters are captured to perfection. Even with all their flaws and foibles, you will be hoping that mercy, forgiveness, and redemption will be found somewhere for all these characters (with the exception of Pruitt). All of these characters are flawed and hurting. Easter and Ruby are trying so hard to keep their family bond intact and stay together while they really don't know and have little control over what their future holds. Even while you want Wade to be that strong father he wants to be, you know, deep down inside, that he may not be strong enough to make that leap. Brady is wounded, trying to look out for the best interest of the girls and find them, but he is still struggling with his own issues.
This Dark Road to Mercy is extremely well-written Southern fiction that captured my attention right from the start and held it to the end. I'm going to have to read Cash's debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, based on how much I enjoyed This Dark Road to Mercy.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for TLC review purposes.
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