Words matter and Sumner Wilson clearly gets that. In his novel, A House of Men, a tale of family conflict that spans generations, he uses words masterfully to paint pictures of the landscape, to set the mood and tone, and to bring his characters to life. I found myself re-reading passages just to savor the unique and almost poetic phrases. Emotionally, this is not an easy book to read but it’s a hard book to put down. The conflict centers on the two main characters, Steel Fixx and his cousin, Honus Rust. They were close in their youth but they began a feud that lasted a life time and entrapped family and friends on both sides in a fight to the death. Wilson avoids cliché, feel-good plot devices so if you’re looking for a “happy ending,” this may not be the book for you. Characters don’t always do what you want them to do. The “good guys” aren’t always good and Wilson develops the less sympathetic characters in ways that help you understand and empathize with their motivations even if you don’t approve of their actions. If you want a layered, complex tale that rings true about the complex nature of humans and keeps you engaged from beginning to end, you will love A House of Men.
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