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* Ibby in Rocky Mount, Virginia, about "War, WV"

That “valley of the shadow of death” we are so familiar with might describe the mining community, War, West Virginia, in Michael Abraham’s novel of that title. Like his recent novel, “Providence, VA,” in which an electromagnetic pulse forever changes the lives of its victims by destroying anything needing electricity to operate, this novel is peopled with an amazing variety of characters thrown into chaos by a natural disaster. The dangers of underground and strip mining, the environmental issues and toxins, and the politics behind the problems swirl through this fast-paced book like the flood waters in the hollows below the dams that break. And like a rich coal seam deep inside the mountains, being revealed little by little, the unpublished memoir of one of the characters is a narrative within a narrative and reveals what life was in the heyday of mining in McDowell County, WV. Blight, poverty, loyalty. Rocks, water, fire, gas. Hard work. Betrayal. Disease. As one old-timer says, “Nobody ever comes to the hollows of West Virginia by accident. Everyone has a reason.” Delve into the gritty and dark War going on in this well-crafted novel, and then rethink that valley of the shadow of death. Not everyone safely passes through.

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