Finalist, Georgia Author of the Year Award, First Book, 2014
The nineteenth century looms just a few years away, bringing with it the belief in progress and a new world. But for Josiah Fuller, William Corvin, and the Rider in the Appalachian backwoods and small towns of the late nineteenth century, there is nothing but a world where bloodshed is paid for in blood, and violence is the ultimate law of the land.
When seventeen-year-old Josiah Fuller comes home to find his parents hanged and mutilated and the family house burned to the ground, he sets off to find the man responsible for their murders and avenge their deaths. His journey takes him through new towns and wildernesses he has not seen before. He meets people who show him the realities of living in a violent world, forcing Josiah to decide what is most important to him: vengeance or grace.
Years after running away from home as a young boy, William Corvin returns with his new bride to take over the family’s coal mining operation. Though he is haunted by the violence of his past, he sets out to live a peaceful life and start a family there. However, Corvin’s hopes of peace are challenged when a horrible act of violence causes him to revert back to the man he once was.
After being visited by an angel in a dream years earlier, the Rider has become a man with violence in his blood, believing himself to be appointed by God to collect the souls of sinners. He travels around on his horse, killing whoever he feels is deserving of God’s wrath and vengeance. These three men move along their own individual paths, their stories intersecting with one another, continually searching for an understanding of the violent world in which they live and their own actions within that world.
The novel examines the power and fragility of belief and conviction within humans, showing how one small act often leads to consequences that reach far beyond anyone’s imagining.