Billy Coffey is the author of four novels: Snow Day (2010) Paper Angels (2011), When Mockingbirds Sing (2013) and The Devil Walks in Mattingly (2014).
From his website:
“When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.
Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.
But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.”
If there’s one thing Billy Coffey knows how to do it’s write a story. His syntax is as compelling as the story itself.
How did I like this book? Not as much as I liked When Mockingbirds Sing. And that’s not because it was poorly written. I think it’s because it was a heavy, emotionally-wrenching story. Which is probably what Coffey was going for. You definitely feel invested in the characters because he makes the weightiness of their guilt very real to the reader.
Basically, the story is about a sheriff and his wife going through life carrying a load of guilt for something that they did in high school that resulted in a death. There’s another character that feels this weight as well. They do all sorts of things to appease the weight of their sin. They go through life unaware of available grace.
What I do like about Coffey books are the ghosts. Not in the Casper-sense. But metaphorically and perceptually. The mountains and hollows of Virginia are known for such things, and the setting for this book was perfect for the “ghosts” that haunt the characters of this book.
I read all 385 pages in one sitting. It didn’t bore me and that says a lot about how well this book was written. I’m easily distracted when reading fiction and I like a story that keeps me engaged. This one did.
In some ways, Coffey’s writing in this book reminded me of Ted Dekker’s. I’ve not read all of Dekker’s books, but the ones I have read deal with supernatural issues similarly. If you like Dekker, I have no doubt you’ll like Coffey.
I’m no expert, but I think if Coffey could have incorporated a few breaks of levity in the book, I might have enjoyed it more. Again, it was a heavy read emotionally. But if you like a book that grabs you by the collar and won’t let you go, a book you can’t stop thinking about after you put it down, you’ll like this one.
I give it 4.5 stars.