Seven years ago I read Michael Thomas Ford’s first book, Last
Summer. Hated it. This year, Kensington Press sent me three
hardcover copies of The Road Home—enough to send out as Christmas gifts.
Feeling guilty that Kensington spent $72.00 (list price, not including postage)
on this insignificant, pissant book critic, I figured I might at least crack
one of them open. As sometimes happens, The Road Home turned out to be a
Photographer Burke Crenshaw is involved in a car accident
that leaves him needing full time care after he gets out of the hospital.
Unable to tolerate his friends—who feel the same way about him—he ends up
staying with his father and his new wife in his childhood bedroom. He meets
Will Janks, the closeted son of his former best friend Mars, beginning a
relationship of sorts with the young man. But he also finds himself involved
with a Civil War mystery, Radical Faeries and patching up his relationship with
If, after reading the synopsis, you think you know the
ending, you’d probably be right. Crenshaw does, at least, come to accept his
father and his home for what they both are. I mean, it’s not called The Road
Home for nothing. But who he ends up with romantically is a surprise, as is
the solution to the Civil War mystery—which ties the Radical Faeries in neatly
at the end. Since Last Summer, Ford has culled most of the bland,
predictable stereotypes from his repertoire, replacing them with neatly detailed
characters picking their way through a plot that has some interesting twists
Ford’s settings have also improved. His Vermont small town
is credible and well-crafted, as chilly and no-nonsense as the people who
inhabit it. The dialogue pops, without ever sounding contrived or unnatural,
and his prose is nice and clean—scrubbed of the relentless head-hopping found
in so many books today. I also liked the way Ford handled the Radical Faeries,
gently joshing them but retaining a sense of reverence for their mission and
philosophy. I wish the Civil War mystery had a bit more to do with the main
plot, but that complaint is minor at best.
The Road Home proved to be an entertaining,
winning read whose intriguing plot and interesting characters were as
satisfying as sweet Vermont maple syrup over hotcakes on a cold morning.
And if anyone wants a copy, I have two left.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler