Once an average, happy family, they are broken apart by a father who abandons all for another woman. Meg is shattered, unlovable, her children left to care for themselves. Simon magically appears, the obvious answer to Meg's despair. In a dramatic, fateful rescue of Meg, as drowning, she flails helplessly about, Simon wins her heart and her hand in marriage. But Simon Jester demands loyalty, from Meg most of all, even at the expense of her children. Then, like the preacher in "Night of the Hunter", Simon shouts with the voice of Wrath and Righteousness, fervent disciple of the Biblical God of the Old Testament.
Sensitive Alice intuits Simon's dangerous flaws and becomes cautious, watchful, aware of Meg's penchant for denial. Boone's God is forgiving, temperate and merciful, allowing Boone to hold all things capable of at least some small amount of goodness, even Simon. But the slow-building tension in the house sends chills down Alice's back as Simon stares malevolently at her and her brother. And Alice can find no real God to answer her prayers.
Poor inept Meg, so unsure of her worth, is terrified of losing Simon and not being loved. Finally pregnant, Meg nurtures a desperate surge of hope, of giving Simon a new son, another family to replace the one he lost so tragically. Slowly the brother and sister are pushed away from their weak mother, as Simon looms, feeding his hatred, overshadowing this small family, bending all to his will. Tragedy fills the air like the static of a fast moving storm. The power of innocence breeds courage, as rage breeds betrayal, desperation and finally a torrent of violence. Amidst the terror, Boone loses his heart to the wild and complicated Persley Snow, and Alice has a glimpse of the passionate attachments of first love.
Hepinstall has reached inside the darkest chambers of the human heart, unleashing the demons as well as the angels. Her metaphors are clean and powerful, a trenchant refusal of palliatives, fearless in the face of truth. Alice, Boone and Persley are cast into a world that contains the extremes of good and evil, each in constant battle. Their strength is ultimately drawn from the hubris of youth: that they could even lose such a contest gives them the courage to fight for their lives. Luan Gaines.
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