Finished: Feb. 15, 2011
First Published: May 5, 2009
Publisher: Water Brook Press
Genre: Southern Fiction, Magical Realism, Christian Fiction, (Paranormal/Horror)
It was the kind of day when even the lost believed.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Water Brook Multnomah.
Reason for Reading: I love Southern fiction, especially when old ladies are involved for some reason. The mysterious visitor angle got me and knowing this was Random House's Christian Fiction imprint I just felt the story would resonate with me somehow.
I don't know where to begin to describe this story. Southern fiction is usually defined by its quirky characters and this book certainly has its fair share of those. All of them as lovable and quirky as the next, even the irritating ones end up showing their compassionate side. Plot wise we start off with an elderly woman, Velma, but just how old we are never told; she could have been anywhere between 60s and 80s, though I tended to think of her as in her late 60s. She has been widowed one year and basically had a nervous breakdown at her mailbox when she received his death certificate and now will not leave from the front of her house or travel by road. She has many brightly coloured strings leading from her porch to the mailbox, the birdbath, bird feeders, plants around the yard, etc. so she can be grounded to the house while she takes care of these needs. Velma is visited by a mysterious stranger one day and given a small rock with awesome power. It shines amazing colours when it wants to and can take Velma back into her memories, both happy and sad. But something evil wants this rock, which is much more than it seems. The evil makes its presence known bit by bit but it isn't until the end that it outright shows itself and an epic spiritual battle of good vs. evil must be fought.
I absolutely adored this book! The story crosses so many genres within one plot but for the main part is simply a southern fiction story about a group of people in a small town with an added magical realism element. The spiritual battle/paranormal/horror or whatever you want to call it based on your own beliefs, because this book is perfectly readable by any creed. If you are Christian, you'll get the plot from a believer's view, but if you are not Christian, you'll simply read it from your own world view. There is no preaching, and really know mention of God; it's all in how you read the story.
The characters are wonderful! Velma, the main character, I've mentioned. Then there is her best friend Sara who is the absolute opposite of Velma, a former school teacher, who has been looking for someone to share her knowledge with all her life and is now slowly losing her memory from Alzheimer's. Rudy, Velma's only son, though she had wanted a multitude, is a bachelor of choice, a womanizer who works as little as he can to get by, which means pay the bills, buy the booze and spend his nights with a good woman, currently he works part time as the rural route mail man. These are just the main three and there are plenty more to meet as well. The book's writing is also beautiful. The author captures the feel of the place, northern Florida far away from the ocean, and transplants the reader into her world. Her writing is lyrical and a joy to read. I really enjoyed this book; I think I said that already but it's true! Anyone who likes Southern Fiction will enjoy this book as long as they are able to suspend belief and accept the magical realism that is an integral part of the story. Highly recommended!