Sorrow Wood

Sorrow Wood

4.1 73
by Raymond L Atkins

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When the charred body of a promiscuous, self-proclaimed witch is discovered at a farm called Sorrow Wood, nearly everyone in the sleepy town of Sand Valley, Alabama, is drawn into the case. As the murder probe continues, a multitude of secrets are revealed, including one that leads back to the rock castle home of Wendell Blackmon, Sand Valley's police chief, and


When the charred body of a promiscuous, self-proclaimed witch is discovered at a farm called Sorrow Wood, nearly everyone in the sleepy town of Sand Valley, Alabama, is drawn into the case. As the murder probe continues, a multitude of secrets are revealed, including one that leads back to the rock castle home of Wendell Blackmon, Sand Valley's police chief, and his beloved wife Reva. The town's inhabitants ruminate on the true meaning of commitment, love, death, hope, and loss as they delve deeper into questions such as Who was this woman? Where did she come from? and What did her presence mean to Wendell, Reva, and the townspeople of Sand Valley?

Editorial Reviews

Tennessee Library Association
Ultimately a story about the lasting strength of love.
Decatur Daily News
Anyone who lives in a Southern small town or the rural South will be able to relate to . . . the characters portrayed by Atkins.
From the Publisher

"Ultimately a story about the lasting strength of love."  —Tennessee Library Association

Publishers Weekly

Subtle humor and mostly pitch-perfect prose distinguish Atkins's compelling mix of mystery and romance, set in 1985 with flashbacks to the 1930s and '40s. When Wendell Blackmon, the 59-year-old police chief of Sand Valley, Ala., investigates the murder of a self-proclaimed witch whose charred body was found at a farm called Sorrow Wood, he discovers that the victim was loathed by many in her occult-as-an-excuse-for-free-love coven. Meanwhile, decades earlier, after a painful childhood, Wendell meets his future wife, Reva, falls in love and marries her in the course of a week. Together they build a family. Reva, who serves as Sand Valley's probate judge and believes in reincarnation, believes she and Wendell have shared several lifetimes, indicated in historical vignettes throughout. Atkins (The Front Porch Prophet) smoothly weaves past into present as the action builds to a final poignant twist. (Aug.)

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Product Details

Medallion Media Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Raymond L. Atkins is the author of "The Front Porch Prophet." His stories have been featured in numerous publications, including "The Blood and Fire Review," "The Lavender Mountain Anthology," and "The Old Red Kimono." He lives in Rome, Georgia.

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Sorrow Wood 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 73 reviews.
TexasStarVA More than 1 year ago
A mystery, and a love story. I enjoyed the quirky characters of this small town, but the story is so much more than that. The life experiences and lessons learned are beautifully told. The murder-mystery is solved in a way I never saw coming, but worked well. Highly-imagined, witty and wise, this tale of life, struggle and death is just awesome. Raymond Atkins is my newest favorite author. Highly recommended!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
1985 Sand Valley, Alabama, was protected by the capable policing capabilities of its native son, Wendell Blackmon. The fines he levied were adjudicated by the County Probate Judge, Reva, who happens to be his wife.  They met in Seattle during World War II, Reva had lost her parents after they left the dust bowl of Oklahoma and was working in the Naval Shipyard repairing damaged ships; Wendell had escaped an abusive father to the United States Navy.  Their life, from meeting in 1943 to 1985, is a story worth telling and is told via flashbacks in the pages of this second novel of a rising star in Southern Fiction. The action of the book takes place in less than two weeks but the lives of these two “eternal lovers” are shown in great detail thanks to the backstory so liberally told.  The pain both have suffered prepared each to meet the other when the world was on the verge of being destroyed.  Everyone Reva had ever loved – her parents, first husband, best friends – had all died suddenly.   Wendell was glad to find the safety of a war to protect him from a mean, vicious father and was not looking for another close relationship.  Their love saw them through the pain of multiple losses, a cross county relocation and careers neither of them planned to pursue (she became Probate Judge “temporarily” that lasted 10 years).  What happened at Sorrow Wood would come to determine what their years together meant as well as answer questions neither expected ever to be revealed.  The reader gets to experience superb writing, witty banter, a decent mystery and a trip into the private world of two people doing life. The major theme of the book is the never ending circle of life.  People die (a GREAT many die in the passage of time detailed in this story), new lives evolve, careers are created, life’s work ends,  random irrational acts cause confusion, simple events solve huge problems - all emerge to reveal a common existence shared by all.  Reva’s acceptance of reincarnation and Wendell’s love of Reva only magnify the idea of Karma and balance introduced early in the book.  The writer is a Southern Author; therefore religion is a must in his writing.   Although many of the deaths are sad (none are overly graphic in their depiction) the book maintains an optimistic feel throughout.  There is much use of “coarse” language and some of the characters partake in activities Mr. Atkins humor, particular worldview and ability to see reality then relate what he sees makes what could be a depressing novel into a story of hope. 
Tusitala More than 1 year ago
Atkins' first book -- Front Porch Prophet -- was an enjoyable story with a great cast of characters. It stood out, though, because of the author's superb writing style. His tongue-in-cheek humor and rich, pithy descriptions make an ennobling experience all by themselves. Sorrow Wood is more of the same, but deeper in subject matter. Love stories can be hokey, but not in Atkins' hands. Wendell and Reva are destined for fame. The story has thoughtful overtones of the continuity of life's spirit. If that sounds deep and dreary, read the book and be surprised.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GREAT READ!! While not as gripping or humerus as Front Porch Profit, this was an excellent read. Raymond Atkins has a wonderful way of putting a reader right into the small southern town he has created. This is the love story of Reva and Wendell, covering the span of their time together in this life and past lives. It is funny, sad, and wonderful. I liked how the past lives are brought into the story line. The murder mystery is kind-of a back story used to tell the tale of these two love birds. If it confuses you at all, keep reading, Atkins ties it together in the end. There is a little cussing in this book, and some violence (the murder), and even some discussion on some weird sex, so I would not recommend for the very young reader. That being said, I would recommend this read (and the previous read -- Front Porch Profit) to any one else. Atkins is a wonderful author that can really create a character. The people of this town are a wonderful eclectic bunch of people. Loved this and cannot wait to read the next book!! -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Raymond Atkins style of writing. Gritty, funny and sweet!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As good as the love story in this book is, it was too long on unimportant character development. The subplot of a murder mystery was also a let down and was solved towards the end in one page. I really like the author, but I was disappointed in this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read Raymond Atkins I'm always impressed with how he's able to cover both humor and sorrow, almost at the same time. Sorrow Wood goes a little deeper into the serious nature of life than did Front Porch Prophets (as the title of the book would probably indicate), but it still maintains the humor that doesn't let you get too depressed by the story unfolding. I would definitely recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, but not quite as much as I liked THE FRONT PORCH PROPHET by this author. The characters were fully developed and the story was wonderfully engaging. I thought the "flashback" segments were a bit contrived, but I appreciate the Southern humor and tradition that Atkins describes very well. It's a "comforting" experience to read his book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author did a great job of giving a very complete picture of the lives and love of the two main characters. It made for a fun and interesting read.
Melisan More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Sorrow Wood- a great cast of characters, at times a gentle stroll through a small town, and at others thought provoking twists and turns. I'll keep an eye on this author.
CindyAR More than 1 year ago
I read Front Porch Prophet and loved this writer. I was not disappointed when I purchased this book. Very few authors can get me laughing till tears come and Mr. Atkins has done this with both his books. I wish I could find more by him. LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly enjoyable book. It meanders along like a appalachian stream, getting where it is going and not in much of a rush. I really enjoyed the ending; some people feel it was rushed or too abrupt, but I found it to be perfect. I really enjoyed his previous book to and look forward to more works from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was lent this book and WOW i loved it. Ive read anither by this author and was definatly not dissapointed. A love story of love that survives the ages and a mystery. The characters and storyline were amazing and had me hooked from the beginning. Though i already read it, i plan to purchase it and add it permantly to my library. Kudos to the author....this book rocks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story made you feel like you really knew the people involved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not nearly as good as the authors previous book Front Porch Prophet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mathilda73 More than 1 year ago
Set in the south this book pulls you in from the 1st page. Found that once I started reading it was hard to put down because I was invested in the characters and their lives. I would highly recomnend this for a book club, although I could not find discussion questions. Another book by Raymond Atkins is Front Porch Prophet...also a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt, Raymond Atkins can do more character development in a single paragraph than most authors can do in an entire book. You can identify with the characters and their motivations. His books seem honest and straightforward. When the story is finally over, you can imagine the future for the characters. While the ending is not a "happily ever after," all the loose ends are addressed. I would recommend any book by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
carlalee More than 1 year ago
Should I have read a previous story? I could not get into the read. Did not go beyond the first chapter.