Set in the depression-era Appalachian mountains, this atmospheric mystery builds off folklore to examine destiny, desperation, and morality. After convincing the county commissioners to let her take over her deceased husband’s role as sheriff, Ellie Robbins becomes responsible for carrying out an execution and—in a time when women were considered incapable of handling many tasks—this makes everyone unhappy.
Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad series set in Appalachia, explores the ties between a reluctant female sheriff and a condemned man in this stunning and powerfully written Depression-era novel.
Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn’t a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them.
Suddenly thrust into the role of primary caretaker for her family following the tragic death of her husband, Ellie Robbins is appointed to serve out his term as sheriff of their rural Tennessee mountain town. The year is 1936, and her role is largely symbolic, except for the one task that only a sheriff can do: execute a convicted prisoner.
Ellie has long proven she can handle herself. But becoming sheriff is altogether different, and the demands of the role are even more challenging when she is forced to combat society’s expectations for a woman. Soon enough, dark secrets come to light, and Ellie must grapple with small town superstitions and the tenuous ties she shares with a condemned killer as she carves out a place for herself in an uncertain future.
“There is no one quite like Sharyn McCrumb. No one better either” (San Diego Union-Tribune), and her luscious narrative brings her unforgettable characters to life with the “pure poetry” (The New York Times Book Review) that defines her astounding novels. Prayers the Devil Answers combines masterful historical research and captivating folklore to make an atmospheric and suspenseful tour de force.
About the Author
Sharyn McCrumb is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad novels. She has received numerous honors for her work, including the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature, the AWA Book of the Year, and Notable Books in both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. She was also named a Virginia Woman of History for Achievement in Literature. She lives and writes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, fewer than one hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790.
"The writing in Prayers the Devil Answers is like the tale it tells: straight-forward, unadorned, and powerful. Set during the deep Depression, in an area very familiar to readers of Sharon McCrumb’s previous novels, this story of an ordinary woman thrust into the extraordinary role of sheriff moves forward with relentless momentum and stark beauty. McCrumb continues to mine gold from the hard-rock lives of those who call Appalachia home." — William Kent Krueger, New York Times Bestselling Author
“Prayers the Devil Answers is a rich, astonishing, marvelous book. With a superb eye for detail, Sharyn McCrumb masterfully captures the essence of Depression-era Appalachia, its rough beauty, its folklore, and most of all, its people. Suspenseful and gritty, this compelling tale of a determined young widow confronting heartbreak and impossible choices will resonate long after the final page.” — Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
"Not only is McCrumb a masterful storyteller in the classic sense of the word, but her deep love and historical background of her native Appalachian ancestry create a tapestry to be relished by her readers...In PRAYERS THE DEVIL ANSWERS, we get caught up in a vibrant and suspenseful tale of a woman’s courage, in a time and place we won’t soon forget." — Book Reporter
“Captivating in its scope and detail…an excellent exploration of one woman’s journey to save her family and find herself.” — Publishers Weekly
"Prayers theDevil Answers" is both an indictment of those who would hold a woman backsimply because of her gender and, at the same time, a celebration of what aperson can do when faced with difficult circumstances and seeminglyunsurmountable odds. McCrumb has given us just the woman to overcome those oddsin the character of Ellie Robbins." — A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS
“She has done it again…[combined] a great story and great writing... Word-upon-word, it is a page-turner.” — The Erwin Record