Billy Coffey’s newest book, “The Devil Walks in Mattingly” released about a month ago. It’s his fourth book, following on the heels of “Snow Day,” “Paper Angels,” and “When Mockingbirds Sing”—all of which are set in the small-town of Mattingly, Virginia.
I was a bit tardy in getting my hands on a copy of the book, but all frustration fell away as my ReadMattingly Week wore on. God’s timing and Truth knocked my socks off as I simultaneously read Coffey’s fictional saga by night and several chapters of Isaiah, especially 51 and 52, by morning. Parallels between the two are amazing!
I wonder if Coffey had been under the influence of Isaiah at any point while he crafted this story.
“I know why I had to wake that boy.” His voice was quiet, a whispered awe that barely reached Lucy’s ears. “It’s because of Jake and Kate both. To . . . draw them.”
Stand up, O Jerusalem,
You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord
The cup of His fury;
You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling,
And drained it out. (Isaiah 51:17)
Pretty ladies were poison even if a blessing.
“You Awake?” he asked.
Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Shall no longer come to you.
Shake yourself from the dust, arise;
Sit down, O Jerusalem!
Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion! (Isaiah 52:1-2)
“I speak it again because I have no confidence in your answer, lady. Everybody thinks they’s Awake, yet they are not. Charlie believed he was. You saw his end. Let that be instruction.”
How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things. (Isaiah 52:7)
It shouted yes and it shouted that all had been for naught and all had been a lie, because no one dreams once they’re Awake.
So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider. (Isaiah 52:15)
I admit that for the first third of Coffey’s book I was creeped out… because the more I got to know the characters, the more I found redeemable qualities in the “bad guys.” And on the flip, the “good guys” were burdened with their share of sin-laden knapsacks. Similar to each of us, aye? I reckon that’s why I found “The Devil Walks in Mattingly” a fairly tense read at the get-go; but, because it’s a story of redemption, as I rounded the bend for the end, so many aspects of this tory fell into place. Gracious forgiveness, heaps of humility, a desire for Truth, and ginormous love… Much like what Isaiah teaches us about God.
Maybe we carry a load that is not ours.
Maybe we haven’t met Him in our rugged woods.
Maybe we need to lay a burden down and begin again.
Maybe we try to earn that which He offers, free.
Because of the vast array of events, feelings, emotions, and people that combine to make us who we are, I reckon there’s a bit of each character in us.
Speaking of characters, it was awesome to find people from Coffey’s previous books throughout his current story. Even though such folks had minor roles in this book, I like how Coffey placed them into various scenes. This technique brought even more depth to “The Devil Walks in Mattingly” because whenever the author mentioned Peter, Abby, Josh, Sara, Timmy, Andy, Eric, and Jabber, it was as if I had bumped into a friend. The author brought life to names on pages because I had memories of them.
So, in addition to “The Devil Walks in Mattingly,” if you haven’t read all of Coffey’s books, now is as good as a time as any for you to meet more folks Mattingly, Virginia.
Oh! Oh! Oh! Once you finish this book, flip back to the section entitled “The End” tucked between the publisher’s note and section one. Now read it again.