The Blood of Heaven
The son of a fire-eating Baptist preaching his way across the post-Revolutionary backwoods, Angel Woolsack has learned his father’s trade well. In fact, his father has literally put fire in the boy’s mouth: Angel’s punishment for wayward word or deed is chewing a live coal from the campfire. The lad frees himself from his father’s grasp with a shovel across the deranged man’s head, tries the perilous life of a highwayman, and then tumbles to western Florida. That blood-soaked land is already a bone of contention with Spain and France, but Angel joins Aaron Burr’s plot to tear that region away from the fledgling United States and form a new country.
Kent Wascom’s novel distills the United States’ frontier history into potent moonshine: political machinations, fire and brimstone religious revival, a turbulent love story, the agonies of slavery, and the drawing and re-drawing of our country’s boundaries with blood.
This is an amazing debut. It roves from Natchez to Indiana and to New Orleans like the Odyssey staged in a revival tent and narrated by Elmer Gantry. Wascom’s vivid imagery transfixes, leaving me like a bird watching a snake creep closer, unable to look away lest I miss one delicious detail. We will all be hearing from Kent Wascom again, and the sooner the better. I completely recommend this book to everyone, and hold onto your hat, because it’s a heckuva ride!