Liar’s Winter, by Cindy Sproles, is one of the most exceptional novels in the Christian Fiction genre that I’ve read in a long time. It’s a story about prejudice: the ignorance behind it, the personal pain resulting from it, and the horrifying way it has of making otherwise good people become filled with hate and fear.
Cindy tells the story from the deep first person POV of Lochiel Ogle, who was stolen from her mother in infancy. She was raised by a man and woman who were of terrified her, and had a “brother” who brutally harassed her. She has a mark on the side of her face which, according to Appalachian lore, is the mark of the devil. All sorts of insane superstitions are associated with that mark.
She spent her life under the assumption that the way she was treated is normal. That it’s “love.” Only when her real father finds her does she learn what love is. He and his mother, her grandmother, have their work cut out for them. They have to undo the damage her “parents” did by showing her what true love is, while fighting against the image she has of herself which was thrust upon her by others.
Cindy doesn’t go easy on Lochiel. From beginning to end, what the girl endures is difficult, often physically dangerous and terrifying. Even the chapters dedicated to her “reprogramming” are hard to read because of how realistic the struggle is. When a person is ingrained with a low self-worth, it’s nigh unto impossible to see herself in a different, more favorable light. It’s hard enough accepting love from people who are there with you, but accepting love from a God you can’t see? That takes faith. Until Lochiel can accept love from her real family, she can’t conceive of love from an invisible God.
Throughout this book, Cindy maintains a deep POV. Many newbies think that just because they’re writing in first person, they’re writing deep. Not so. Writing in deep POV, whether in first person or third, is such an immersion into the character that the reader feels like one with her. Cindy achieved that. I didn’t feel like I was reading about Lochiel. I felt every pain that she did. What’s more, because of the way Cindy crafted the book. I knew enough to dread things to come that Lochiel didn’t even realize. Cindy knows how to amp tension. There is very little down time in this novel.
One writing technique Cindy employed was to match the speech patterns of the mountain folks, which required her to do a lot of “g-dropping” from the end of words. Can you imagine how many apostrophes that would require? Fortunately, Kregel allowed her not to use them at the end of words. Once you, the reader, realize what is going on with all those missing Gs and apostrophes, you don’t even notice it anymore. Smart move, Cindy and Kregel.
Amazing 5-star book. Totally worth the read. Highly recommended. Highest accolades. Don’t know what else I can say to convince you to put it on your TBR list.
This is, indeed, an exceptional book as was Cindy’s first novel, Mercy’s Rain. The feel of Appalachia is ingrained in every page and the reader is there in the mountains experiencing the life of those who live there.
I’ll have to get that one. Cindy is one of my new favorite authors. Her style is amazing.