First Sentence: I sat on the edge of Zach’s bed and stared at the small town of LEGOs and Matchbox cars that covered the floor.
Mattingly is a very small town set in the mountains—old mountains filled with secrets--of Western Virginia. A boy died there 20 years ago. Although ruled a suicide, three people’s lives are still haunted by that death; the sheriff, his wife, and a hermit. Still, the events of the past also impact the life of a younger generation; Lucy Seekins. Can they find redemption at last?
From the very start, one is captivated by Coffey’s voice—“I come to this place of darkness because it is where the light of heaven once touched. I come here for the ones who were saved on a night long ago and for the ones lost. I come because heaven is not without the past.” There is so much here that causes one to stop and consider—“I come into this world pure and unblemished, but I will leave it bearing all of my scars. My comfort rests in a grace that will mold those scars into the jewels of my crown.”
There is a hint of the paranormal, which adds an intriguing element and would make for a fascinating topic of discussion as to what it is; what it represents, of what is real and what is not.
Coffey’s powers of description create a sense of place which places the reader directly into the story—“Frogs sang along a prattling creek beyond the open window. Far away a train whistled as it lumbered through the center of town.” Coffey is one of those authors whose words can strike such a cord, one may feel the need to record and preserve them—“Because to those great watching eyes, the world is always neither bright nor dim. Because there is darkness in man and also a light, and by their mingling the world lies at eventide.”
In the midst of everything we, the readers, are trying to understand, comes a classic, ordinary plot twist. One can become taken with the imagery, yet still be reminded that there is a good, often suspenseful, story being told. At the same time, there is a strong spiritual theme and a reminder of the good that can come with simple beliefs—“Despite what Kate and Taylor and I always thought, it was choice rather than fate that governed our lives.” And who doesn’t love a book that includes a quote from poem “A Dream Within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe.
“The Devil Walks in Mattingly” is a wonderful read with a bit of everything, spirituality, suspense, and just a very small touch of the paranormal. But it is mainly about the price of sins and pride, followed by redemption.
THE DEVIL WALKS IN MATTINGLY (Novel-Jake/Kate/Taylor-Virginia-Contemp) – VG+
Coffey, Billy – Standalone
Thomas Nelson – March 2014