Michael Ellsworth Newberry’s life has been miraculously spared multiple times throughout his life. In his hometown of Bellhaven, South Carolina, he is the unofficial leader of the unusually diverse, small town, Southern community. He has lost his wife to the town hall fire after her rescue of a young black child sought by Klansman, who set the fire. He has lost his leg to World War I, where he also lost his best friend and any chance at the Big Leagues as a pitcher. Left bereft and wallowing in self-pity, Ellsworth is the last of the townfolk to receive the forgiveness and peace offered by lost loves in the mysterious chapel in the woods, the same woods that the children of Bellhaven had been warned to avoid for as long as they can remember. He doesn’t respond as readily as the others to this gift, fighting it, determined to expose the double-edged sword of such a gift.
Good and evil are not clearly delineated throughout this story of redemption, as flawed, complex individuals come together to fight the true enemy, the enemy to which their eyes must be opened. Each time it seems the story may be slipping into the stereotypical, Christian concept of Armageddon, it edges back into a tale of mythical fantasy with graphic descriptions of extraordinary happenings. Though a tale of good versus evil, it uniquely casts shade on all characters and delivers an astonishing climax and unexpected ending.
I appreciate the chance to read the ARC of this wonderful story through NetGalley.