GOD'S KINGDOM by Howard Frank Mosher


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Mosher (The Great Northern Express, 2012, etc.) finds a coming-of-age story in God’s Kingdom, "up in the little known mountains of northern Vermont hard by the Canadian border."

The tale follows Kinneson fathers and sons across the centuries, as revealed by the curiosity of high schooler and budding writer Jim Kinneson during the early 1950s. Described in Prairie Home Companion–like storytelling chapters, the Kingdom Kinnesons originate with Charles, who trekked into "Territory but Little Known" in 1759 and led a massacre of Abenaki Indians, only to return later and marry Molly Molasses, an Abenaki. In the early 19th century, "Abolition Jim" Kinneson was killed by federal troops because he led God's Kingdom to secede from the United States over the issue of slavery. In blackly comic stories, often melancholy or ripe with realism, characters are shaped by a land of isolated beauty, where winter weather can linger far below zero. Teetotaling Kinnesons once operated the Water of Life whiskey distillery, and they live on the "farm that wasn’t," which only begins to flourish in Jim's time under the stewardship of the itinerant Black Canadian Dubois family. Sadly, it’s young Gaëtan Dubois, math genius and hockey demon, who learns "the great dangers of this place they called God’s Kingdom lay closer to home." Amid hunting and fishing, baseball and school, Jim falls in love with a beautiful girl from the Île d’Illusion, worships his grandfather, and uncovers the ugly truth about "the trouble in the family" between great-grandfather "Mad Charlie" and his best friend, the Rev. Doctor Pliny Templeton, an escaped slave, Princeton seminary graduate, war hero, and founder of Kingdom Common Academy.

No Catcher in the Rye angst here. Instead you'll find a welcome dose of nostalgic realism laced with hard-edged wisdom.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-069481
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2015


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