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The Shepherd of the Hills Kindle Edition
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|Length: 217 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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I was enchanted by the unique character of Pete, an ethereal, fey boy who hears and talks with nature.
While Wright’s depictions of the characters are bigger-than-life, they didn’t feel like cheap stereotypes, rather, I was reminded of archetypes. The story seemed to express a resonance with a myth or a rustic fairy tale.
I will admit that there were times throughout the book where I became weary of Wright’s emphasis upon the perfection of both Sammy’s womanhood and Young Matt’s manhood. However, when viewed from an archetypal perspective, this is simply part of mythology, and through this lens (consider the men and women in Greek myths, for instance, or Snow White and Prince Charming, or even Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden), their physical perfection makes sense.
When, toward the end of the book, the author included a reference to one of my least favorite passages in the Bible, the one about man having dominion over the earth, it jarred with the rest of the story’s message of equitable harmony with the earth.
When I have time, I hope to do a close reading of the text and get further into its mythological themes. For now, I can say that I wholeheartedly recommend the book!
This is a book about several themes, and not ironically, Bell has described this land, of many contrasts, beauty, harshness, death, life, struggle, loss, gain, emptiness, richness etc. similarly, with the human lives of his characters. There are secrets, love lost and gained again, betrayals, greed, vengeance, hate and murder, fear and ignorance, and human lessons to be eventually learned, including deep in the valley, as a new life emerges, to bring hope to some-the Shepard of the Hills.
The author, Harold Bell Wright, was a pastor in real life, and actually visited this area and so knew it, and imaginatively so, to bring to life this
"masterpiece" as it is called, and indeed it is one. There are smaller, seemingly disconnected plots weaving throughout as Bell tells each character's words, intentions, (yet unknown thoughts) movements, as a "scene", as one follows the next, becoming darker, more secretive, developing into the deeper, bigger story, as deep as the valley, as high as the hills, as wide as the land, as each creates a darker image, of both land and people.
The title, The Shepard of The Hills is the "good" in this story, or what can become good.
There are Mollie and "old (Daddy) Matt, as good as good gets in the wiser side and years of life, and their boy, young Matt, as big and strong as his daddy.
There's Sammy Lane, a strong, "beautiful of body" young girl, just like her long gone mother, and loving daddy. Old Matt and Aunt Mollie have always loved her as their own, and gets taken in by them, when her parents are killed; she finds out the wrong way the mystery of both their deaths. Young Matt secretly loves her, but there is another she is promised to, just as strong (Ollie Stewart) a bully with drink, and soon there is a battle for one girl's heart, and an unusual twist toward the conclusion of the Strongest Man of The Hills.
There are other characters in this story, especially "The Painter", a critical part of this story, and just one, of a few secrets in this story. There is mention of God towards the end of the book, but it is not a book about anything religious. It is a simple thought about what people do to the beauty of the world and to each other. And that there is grace in absolution, forgiveness.
With its many similarities and contrasts, especially of harshness and emptiness, it is eventual hope that comes to the Shepard, and of his own contrast within, of an absolution, forgiveness of his own, as he then imparts this to the people of the area, and changes many hearts and lives, and so to his own, in a profound way.