I am amazed that the novel I finished this morning is a debut book. It is richly worded, tightly drawn, with strong, varied characters and locations I could visualize, about an era, time and place very distant from my existence. This must-read book is Serpent Box, by Vincent Louis Carrella.
Serpent Box takes place in the deep south, late 1930’s, in the land of wandering preachers who drink lye and handle snakes to prove the Holy Spirit is with them. The loving, roving family in this book truly came to life, with young Jacob Flint-the boy born inside the lynching tree–following in his father’s footsteps of becoming a snake handler preacher, feeling both the love and unending-pressure of the Holy Spirit with his every breath.
As they continue on their physical and spiritual journey to build their church, the road is difficult and filled with extremely unexpected twists. I knew nothing about hidden-from-roadside, snake-handling, poison-drinking, speaking-in-tongues churches until I read this book, and their fervent beliefs.
This book covers a huge range of emotions, from hate to despair to love to hope to fear to the thought that… “He [Hosea] promised himself that he would live every single day , not as if it were his last but as if it were his first.”
Serpent Box is a fascinating read. Then learning about Carella’s life and almost random inspiration for the book (photos of Appalachian life including snake handlers) and his jouney to develop the storyline and characters brought it full-circle (symbolism he would appreciate I think). Just don’t carry it too deep in the words with you, especially with your jar of lye and Bible. C