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This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash trumpets the unwavering bond of love and devotion that parents have towards their children. Full of rich prose and compound sentences, the writing itself often becomes a presence of its own.

Twelve year old Easter and her younger sister Ruby are put in a foster home after their mother dies unexpectedly. Just when they are beginning to accustom themselves to life as orphans, their estranged father Wade turns up with the desire to spend more time with them. Having signed away the custody of both children, Wade, instead, steals the away in the middle of the night. Many different people start a hard tracked search to find Wade, including their legal guardian, Brady Weller, and Robert Pruitt, a ruthless mercenary.

With a multi narrative in first person, it can often take a page or two to deduct that a new character has begun narrating the story. Although this doesn’t interfere with the story telling process, it became slightly awkward when I couldn’t determine who was speaking. Just like Scout in To Kill and Mockingbird, Easter is the books strongest narrator and her young voice is a powerful mover and shaker. Timing also proved to be something of a menace, with secrets from Wade’s past life reappearing here and there, and seeming to interconnect in mid air before separating again.

The title of the book lends itself to the main theme of the story. Mercy – the art of showing compassion and forgiveness when there is the power to do otherwise – is touched on a fair bit. Every character comes to us, the reader, in a broken light seeking the mercy, not only of others, but also themselves.

I enjoyed the journey through this book. It contains a very believable storyline, which isn’t overdramatized or full of pointless violence. Brady Weller, easily the most complex character in the book, also happens to be the most interesting person within the pages of This Dark Road to Mercy. North Carolina provides an ample setting for the events within the book. As Wiley Cash grew up there, it’s hardly surprising he used his profound knowledge of the area to create a story that will cause plenty of North Carolina locals to look over their shoulders, making sure these events aren’t unwinding behind them.

It may not be superlative, but This Dark Road to Mercy is worth reading. For the blokes, it carries plenty of great action and adventure, never being boring, even when the narration itself can be hard to follow.

REVIEWER: Stuart Macadam

This Dark Road to Mercy, by Wiley Cash, is published by Random House. RRP is $37.99.