Author: Billy Coffey
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
Every book of Coffey’s dives a little bit deeper and a little bit darker.
Abel Shifflet’s life needs a little bit of magic. He was born with soft bones and messed up insides, which the other kids at school take advantage of. He and his mom are very poor as she can only wait tables and any money they have tends to go to mending Abel’s bones when they break. At a mountain revival in the hills outside Mattingly, Abel watches Reverend Johnny Mills heal others with the touch of a hand. Abel can’t decide if it is real or just tricks, so he decides to seek out Reverend Johnny after the revival is over. After Johnny takes his money for a “word”, he is soon overtaken by a spirit that tells Abel that he will find treasure, healing, and reward.
Soon after this meeting, with his mother upset about the money he lost to Reverend Johnny, Abel begins to clean the house for forgiveness. While cleaning he finds a treasure, several letters from the father he thought was dead. With this new mystery, Abel decides it is part of the sign and decides to run away to find out the truth in the town of Fairhope, North Carolina. With only his slow minded friend Dumb Willie for a companion, they hope the night train that runs by the trailer park. But someone awaits them in the boxcar and the real danger begins. Is there really magic in the world, big or small, that could help Abel?
I love Billy Coffey’s writing. I love that he is not scared to show the evil of the world in his books and through his characters. But this book is really, really deep. It’s really good, but does it ever dive deeper than anything he has written so far. And if you’ve ever read one of his books, you know that you have to pay attention to the details, otherwise you’ll be reading along and realized that you missed the train somewhere and have to go back to find out where.
All of his books have a supernatural element. It is similar in regard to There Will be Stars with death, but not on the Groundhog Day aspect. I’m still trying to figure out if this is more of a story about Abel or about Dorothy. Both learn a lot in the pages of this book, so it could really be about either. I so want to dive into who these characters are, but feel like I would be ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book. However, I will say that reading the chapters narrated by Dumb Willie are very powerful. Coffey wrote these sections just as if the reader were mentally challenged. The language, word order, and thought process is very powerful and makes the reader really consider these individuals throughout the world.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this is Coffey’s best book. It is still really good, but it just didn’t do as much for me as some of the others. This may be because I have become very attached to several of the main characters that appear in many of the novels. Sherriff Barnett still appears briefly. I also loved the reference to “time is a circle” with Dorthea Cash. Be sure to read There Will be Stars to make that connection if you haven’t.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.