cover image Prayers the Devil Answers

Prayers the Devil Answers

Sharyn McCrumb. Atria, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-7281-3

A prophetic mountain game rooted in age-old superstitions about how to find a husband sets the stage for McCrumb’s (The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter) ponderous morality tale, the latest in the Ballad series. Ellie and Albert are unassuming mountain folk trying to survive in a sleepy Tennessee town after the end of the first World War. After coming down from the mountain settlement, away from their families, at the promise of steady work, Albert quickly finds himself elected sheriff of their small hamlet—a position of respect and a path to acceptance. Ellie is proud of him, but she’s not used to the town folk and maintains her mountain ways. Unfortunately, she has to make do and get used to town quickly after Albert dies of pneumonia and she is appointed to finish his term as sheriff. Though captivating in its scope and detail, a distinct wordiness and repetition may pull readers out of McCrumb’s richly textured world. An abundance of background material burdens what is an otherwise excellent exploration of one woman’s journey to save her family and find herself. [em]Agent: Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Literary Agency (May) [/em]