It's quite a heavy sounding title and as you might expect having seen the book's cover, this tale is somewhat stormy. Easter and her sister Ruby are living in foster care, after the sudden death of their mother. Easter is used to caring for herself and her sister, but when her father Wade returns, she apprehensively follows his lead. In the middle of the night, he takes the two girls, fleeing those whom he owes money, and trying to provide his daughters with the father they deserve. Ultimately, it is not only the police who are trying to hunt down the trio, but also more sinister and vengence-motivated forces who threaten to destroy the lives of all three.
The world that Cash conjures is irrefutably gritty, yet it also bears a Southern gentleness. The book strikes a delicate, yet poised balance between the dark characteristics of its antagonist(s) and the innocence of Easter and her sister. Easter's voice shines from within the recesses of this otherwise overcast world. It was her story that caught me from the start, and despite the shifting narration from chapter to chapter, it was Easter who propelled my reading of the novel forward.
I think the categorization of This Dark Road to Mercy by critics as a work of the Southern Gothic genre is spot on. It might take a little thinking back to earlier school days to recall this genre. His work evokes the aspects of the writings of historical greats, including Truman Capote, Harper Lee, and Cormac McCarthy. It's a bit of the setting of Capote's In Cold Blood, mixed with the dangerous undertones of To Kill A Mockingbird, and the love amidst desolation of McCarthy's The Road. Yet, I found Cash's style most reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor. You probably read her short story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find in school, but if you have a little extra time and are debating reading Cash's latest, take a scan through.
This isn't to suggest that this novel should rank amongst those mentioned above. However, it is to say that Easter's story plants itself firmly within that genre. Though the novel will likely not be remembered as one of the greats, I'd say it is pretty darn good. However, please note that this recommendation is coming from someone who relishes in darker tales and is not bothered by a little grit. Nevertheless, I found the read to be thoroughly enjoyable. Coming in at just under 250 pages, with a plot that moves quickly, this would make for a wonderful rainy afternoon read.