I’m not doing as many Reedsy Discovery reviews these days, since I have a lot of freelance gigs to complete right now, but I wanted to highlight a recent book I reviewed for Reedsy because it was so compelling I couldn’t put it down.
With that in mind, here’s my five-star review for The Red Dirt Hymnbook, by Roxie Faulkner Kirk. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I gave myself enough time to read The Red Dirt Hymnbook over a few days, but I finished it in one night. Roxie Faulkner Kirk weaves a compelling, page-turning narrative centered on a sharp, resourceful heroine—and so I kept going, wanting to know whether Ruby Fae would successfully be able to escape the situation in which she was currently trapped.
With no money, no method of transportation, and limited ability to contact the outside world, Ruby has to figure out how to get herself and her daughter away from the traveling ministry family that once promised freedom before revealing itself to be manipulative, abusive, and controlling. Kirk does a masterful job of escalating the tension, creating several situations in which you are sure Ruby and her daughter have finally been able to leave the Reverend Jasper and his family behind—only to turn the page and find that the Old Rev has been one step ahead of Ruby all this time.
Kirk also does excellent work in humanizing each character, even the ones who might otherwise be portrayed as one-sided monsters. Through Ruby’s eyes, we see each member of the ministry as a person trying their hardest to embody the tenets of their faith, while removing any obstacle that might threaten the faith or the family. We understand why Ruby married the Old Rev’s son, why she stayed with the ministry for as long as she did, and why she now has to leave.
Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Emma Donoghue.