The Reckoning Stones by Laura DiSilverio

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The Reckoning Stones by Laura DiSilverio is mystery novel that puts the mystery itself secondary to the tale, and the emotional and traumatic recovery of a victim of sexual abuse primary. In doing so Laura DiSilverio has created a tightly woven story of betrayal, isolation and the eventual survival of its main character Mercy Asher.

Lone Pine, Colorado is a close knit community that is held together by its deeply seeded religious beliefs. They have no local police force and are rarely visited by the sheriff’s department. In Lone Pine they take care of their own. They have had few scandals in Lone Pine but one of them involved it’s minister, Pastor Matt, the death of his wife and the man who was convicted and sent to prison for her death and the severe beating of the minister himself. Pastor Matt, as a result of the beating, has been in a coma for over two decades. A coma he is beginning to come out of. A miracle to many in the religious community of Lone Pine.

Mercy Asher was fourteen when she left Lone Pine. Since that time her life has been one of suffering and redemption. On her own, as a young runaway she was prostituted and beaten. But now, with an opportunity to lead a better life she is settling down. Except for the occasional foray into sex with younger men with no emotional attachment. Mercy has changed her name to Iris Dashwood and has put Lone Pine far behind her. Except for the nights when the memories come back too strong to drink away.

But she is better she thinks, until news of the recovery of Pastor Matt reaches her. Now Mercy knows that she must return to Lone Pines. Return to face the man she accused of rape. Return to the community that shunned and turned its back on her. To the community that branded her a liar and humiliated her for accusing Pastor Matt of raping a fourteen year old girl. To the mother who sided with the church and Pastor Matt. To her father, who sits in prison for the killing and beating of Pastor Matt and his wife. The father that Mercy knows is innocent.

The Reckoning Stones is a powerfully written novel of the pain and betrayal that is the sexual abuse of a young girl by a authority figure she trusts. Compounded by the community and family that turns their back on her and you have a broken and tragic character in Mercy Asher. A character that DiSilverio has infused with strength and weakness and an all consuming rage at her herself and her past.

This novel is not an indictment on religion, but it is an indictment of the blind trust anyone puts in an institution that puts children at risk. But DiSilverio does not waste her story on that, instead she crafts a terrific story about Mercy/Iris. How she feels. How she copes. How she survives and the cost of returning to the community that caused her so much harm. A community that twenty years afterward would still prefer to believe in its authority figure then in the words of a fourteen year old girl. As the truth becomes to powerful to bear, the community must choose between the truth and the lie they had been led to believe.

If their is a knock on this book it is that we must believe that this community and the good people within are able to turn themselves blind to far too many instances. Not just the rape of Mercy Asher. While plausible, it does become a little too much.

DiSilverio does so much more with the character of Mercy/Iris that she overrides any flaws the book presents.

This is a very good read.

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